"The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is a famous poem by Goethe, perhaps better known in Japan for its appearance in Disney's "Fantasia." In the story, the sorcerer departs, leaving the apprentice to do the chores. Tired of doing them, the apprentice tries to use his magic to get the broom to do the work. The apprentice soon finds himself in trouble, unable to control the magic he has unleashed. The broom continues to bring more and more water, and the place starts to flood. Just as the situation begins to appear hopeless, the sorcerer returns and stops the spell, preventing a disaster.
At the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. now finds itself in an uncannily similar situation to the foolish sorcerer's apprentice. In its desire for maximizing profits, it took shortcuts and did not invest sufficiently in safety. On March 11, 2011, Tepco discovered the consequences of playing with forces it could not completely control. And like Goethe's story, Tepco is threatened by a seemingly never-ending stream of water, much of it is contaminated. Unfortunately for Tepco, and the rest of us, there is no master sorcerer who can stop the flow of water.
Given the sheer volume of water that Tepco is dealing with, as well as the high-pressure conditions in which they have been operating, it is hardly surprising that there have been repeated problems with water leaks.