back to article Fukushima switchboard defeated by rat

A careless rat is being blamed for a power outage that left the Fukushima nuclear plant's storage tanks without cooling. Late on Monday, March 18, TEPCO experienced a power cut at cooling equipment serving the nuclear fuel storage tanks, in an incident that took 30 hours to overcome (the company emphaised that during the …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Maybe the rat is a mutant, trying to assure the radiation of his benighted brethern!!

    Hey, starting the mutant sentient super-rat war is going to require a little direct action! Vive' la rodent revolution!!

    Besides, are you going to believe TEPCO after their "Don't worry, be happy" handling of the initial accident? I smell a rat, I tell you!!

    (Black helicopter, because the next thing you hear the rats will mysteriously start chewing the cabling of airplanes, effectively cutting Japan off from the outside world and grounding the Japanese military's air support.)

    1. LarsG

      Re: Maybe the rat is a mutant,

      I'd be more concerned with finding the creature that coughed up this particular fur ball.

      Whatever it was that ate this rat and spit it out onto the circuit board after digesting the goodness out of it, it's something that you don't want to meet on a dark night.

      Are all the staff accounted for?

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Re: Maybe the rat is a mutant,

        They need to check the car park for a pink ford anglia with a hamster in the passenger seat!

  2. asdf


    Wonder how LP will spin this to demonstrate just how safe nuclear power is. I will grant though the company and people running that plant are muppets of the first order.

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: wow

      Leaving cost aside, is nuclear actually all that dangerous in practice? Look at Fukushima, how many people have died? How bad would have the incident been originally if some nerp hadn't fudged the books over the height of the wall required?

      I'm not a huge fan of nuclear, but I think for now it has a place as part of our overall strategy for energy generation alongside gas \ wind \ solar \ tidal \ geothermal etc. The sanity of putting nuclear power stations in areas with a history of earthquakes \ tsunamis etc if questionable at best and the continued use of nuclear necessitates an entirely new look at how safety is implemented and monitored so commercial interests cannot fudge things again. Having said that, nuclear isn't as shocking as some people make out and until something better comes along to take up its share it will probably continue to be used.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: wow

        You don't actually know how many people have had or will have their lives cut short by this disaster because the Japanese are not very forthcoming ... which was part of the problem in the first place!

        The only potentially good nuclear reactor seems to be the one that those people at MIT just invented. However, I'm pretty sure that because it doesn't provide the scope for corruption and cost inflation it wont be taken up.

        However, if you think nuclear is so great why don't you move next to one. Thought not!

        1. Andrew Beresford

          Re: wow

          I used to live close to Sizewell. It presented me with no concerns what-so-ever.

        2. Andydaws

          Re: wow

          Well, I used to live three miles form Heysham, and I now live about 7-8 miles from Aldermaston and 10 or so from Burghfield - not power plants, but sites with rather a lot of enriched uranium, plutonium and tritium around. I can't say any of them causes me the slightest worry.

          I also spent a few years living within five miles of Drax - which both from particulates and from the regular deposits of wind-blown fly-ash probably did far more damage to my long-term health.

        3. Rampant Spaniel

          Re: wow

          @ ac

          I did for 30 years. Right now I would be very happy to have a nuclear reactor on island, all we have is an oil burning power station and a token wind farm.

          So you are saying people did die and it got hushed up? How very convienient for your point of view. Yes there may be long term health problems but the point I was making was that it could have been far worse and if commercial interests hadn't been allowed to compromise the safety of the plant in the first place it could have been lots better.

          It certainly is not as bad as some people would like to make it out to be. The reality is that we will be using nuclear for a while, it is better to focus on improving security and safety than wage an impossible battle to stop it.

        4. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

            Re: wow

            The WHO certainly does not "report to the IAEA".

            It may be "underreporting" (it probably is) but the brickshitting "overreporting" by Gaiaists is not helpful either.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: wow

              @Destroy All Monsters

              'The WHO certainly does not "report to the IAEA"'

              WRONG! Here it states the WHO & IAEA have a very COSY relationship :-


              WHO- IAEA – Agreement WHA 12–40

              In 1959, the WHO signed Agreement WHA 12–40 with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The agreement states that the WHO recognises the IAEA as having responsibility for peaceful nuclear energy without prejudice to the roles of the WHO of promoting health. However, the following paragraph adds: "whenever either organization proposes to initiate a programme or activity on a subject in which the other organization has or may have a substantial interest, the first party shall consult the other with a view to adjusting the matter by mutual agreement".[92] The nature of this statement has led some pressure groups and activists (including Women in Europe for a Common Future) to believe that the WHO is restricted in its ability to investigate the effects on human health of radiation caused by the use of nuclear power and the continuing effects of nuclear disasters in Chernobyl and Fukushima. They believe WHO must regain what they see as "independence".

        5. Fatman

          Re: wow...why don't you move next to one.

          I live within 75 miles of a nuke plant that, because management damagement wanting to save some money, (to increase their year end bonuses) decided to perform a "DIY" nuke plant repair. (see ) Seventh paragraph says it all.

          And I have no plans to move, either.

      2. elderlybloke

        Re: wow

        Some nerp or nerps fudged the books over the height of the wall required in ALL regions.

        If you have been awake at all for the past 2 years you would know that people were unconcerned about the Tsumani coming because they knew that the height of the barrier was high enought for any wave thought possible.

        Force 9 quake was the first for about a thousand years.

        PS . All of Japan is subject to quakes .

    2. asdf

      Re: wow

      I am the first to admit poor people not having access to affordable energy is a big problem worldwide as well. Nuclear may have its place but its costs are not near as economical long term as say natural gas from what I understand (decommissioning for example is not cheap or simple). Still the most worrying thing about nuclear is unlike all our other energy options its the only one that leaves pollution capable of killing life millions of years in the future long after our species has disappeared and our best current solution is to bury it and pray.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: wow

        > pollution capable of killing life millions of years in the future long after our species has disappeared

        You will find that this is certainly not true. Expecting Chuck-Norris-like-killscale via the few tons of slowly decaying crud is RIDICULOUS. Even today, the fauna and flora around Pripyat are nowhere near dead. You realise that granite is highly radioactive and uranium is a 100% natural product?

        Additionally: "species dead" ---> NO ONE CARES

        Additionally: "millions of years in the future" ---> A bit of planetary extinction event will probably have come along anyway. Take that, greens.

        1. Bronek Kozicki

          Re: wow

          Frankly, I am more worried about soot pollution from coal plants than any imaginable risks from nuclear one. Unless, of course, the nuclear plant is built to 30 years old designs of Russian origin. Which luckily will never happen again.

          Sad really that there are so few statistics comparing death figures from coal against nuclear.

  3. Wilco 1

    In other news... first new UK nuclear power station approved

    at £14 Billion with price per MWh at twice the market rate - on par with off-shore wind power. Let's hope it will cost less to decomission at the end of its life. When will we see an article about this on El Reg? I am especially looking forward to see the positive spin that the editor can put on it after repeatedly claiming how cheap nuclear power is compared to wind turbines...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In other news... first new UK nuclear power station approved

      In other news England hit bit a magnitude 9 earth quake and 40.5m high tsunami!

      Grow up and get some perspective, over ten thousands people died the day of Tohoku quake, over a hundred thousand buildings were flattened, over two hundred thousand buildings were partially collapsed. If people weren't so retarded about nuclear power the area around Fukushima would already be back to normal as it's pretty much unscaved.

      How about you stop talking shit and think about all the dead people, the people that survived them, and the literally millions of people left harmed in one way or another by the event.

      You dick.

      1. frank ly

        @AC 07:02 Re: In other news... first new UK nuclear power station approved

        In a technical article about a nuclear power plant, someone makes a disparaging comment about the cost effectiveness of nuclear power; so you raise the spectre of a natural disaster two years ago and claim that he is being disrespectful to the dead and the survivors. WTF?

      2. Mystic Megabyte

        Re: In other news... first new UK nuclear power station approved

        "If people weren't so retarded about nuclear power the area around Fukushima would already be back to normal as it's pretty much unscaved."

        Unscaved? More like uninhabitable for decades.

        Watch this and admit that *you* are the dick.

      3. PyLETS

        Re: In other news... first new UK nuclear power station approved

        In other news England hit bit a magnitude 9 earth quake and 40.5m high tsunami!"

        An earthquake of that magnitute in a place of such relative geological stability seems to require meteorite impact, and such a tsunami is more likely, given that tsunamis can impact coasts and estuaries thousands of miles away from an earthquake or meteor impact and historical evidence for such incidents exists. .

        Locations such as the Severn Estuary are also favoured sites for the location of nuclear power plant,due to the need for cooling water and having a coastline which isn't subject to silting up or coastal erosion.

    2. Mephistro

      Re: In other news... first new UK nuclear power station approved

      What? You expect nuclear power supporters to take in account the decommissioning costs? What´s next? Taking in account the cost of residue management for the next X thousand years? Sir, you're a hopeless optimist!

      1. peter_dtm

        Mephisto @

        so wrong

        decommissioning costs ARE already included in all new builds - except those (technically speaking) useless pointless windmills.

        Residue management - that's what fast breeder reactors are for; except we're not allowed to build them because most people have no understanding of how nuclear works. Well why would they; most people don't understand how windmills actually (don't) work and they are orders of magnitude simpler.

        1. Mephistro

          Re: Mephisto @ (@ peter_dtm)

          "decommissioning costs ARE already included in all new builds - except those (technically speaking) useless pointless windmills."

          And that's probably the reason for EDF Energy asking for ~twice the current market price/Megawatt. On the other hand decommissioning a wind power plant is PROFITABLE by itself, as most of the materials can be easily recovered and recycled, while decommissioning a nuke plant is dangerous, difficult, expensive and generally speaking a PITA. Also, we can't totally discard the possibility of the energy company disappearing/going bankrupt/whatever before being able to fulfill their part of the bargain, with the taxpayers having finally to foot the bill. It has happened before, you know.

          "Residue management - that's what fast breeder reactors are for"

          Yes, but -for whatever the reason- Hinkley Point C is NOT a breeder reactor, so your argument here is a little bit pointless. I'd also add the same caveat I wrote in my first paragraph, i.e. that there is no assurance that the energy company will be able to perform the residue management part of the deal, regardless whether said management has to run for 10,000 years or a meagre (;-) 200.

          "most people have no understanding of how nuclear works"

          There is a small-but-growing number of people who understands how politics works, and the way that all that investment and job creation and kickbacks and the whatnot would help sweep most criticism under the rug, regardless of the validity of the claims.

          I'm not totally against nuclear energy. I agree that in the future it may be our only chance. But, till we reach that point, we should be improving the technology to minimize the risks involved and maximize its efficiency. As of late it seems that several steps in that direction are being taken -i.e. the salt reactor designed by the MIT guys- but I don't think we're quite there yet.

          1. peter_dtm

            Re: Mephisto @ (@ peter_dtm)

            Actually the wind mill blades are not easy to re-cycle - nor is the masively deep foundations required (made out of re-enforced concrete)

            Fast Breeder reactors - the point of that comment is that waste disposal is NOT a probelm - except for the politics which will not allow the right (safe) technology to be used. Its a bit like banning gear boxes and then wondering why a windmill's blades don't drive a generator ....

    3. itzman

      Re: In other news... first new UK nuclear power station approved

      lets see 3GW and £14 billion..

      Now lets look at offshore wind. that would cost around 9 billion for 3GW but the average power would be just 750MW, so lets look at what 3GW average would cost. I make that £36 billion in windmills.

      Now how many windmills would that be. At say 3MW a turbine capacity, or around 750KW average output that's 4000 windmills.

      Hmm we have better look at land or sea area as well. at 2MW/sq kilometer that's around 1500 square kilometers of sea taken up.

      And we still need gas for when the wind don't blow.

      So that's an area the size of greater London, costing £36bn and with a life expectancy of 12 years, or a £14bn nuke taking up an area the size of a retail park with a life expectancy of 50 years.

      PS a 30 meter tsunami would take out every single offshore turbine, no sweat.

      1. Wilco 1

        Re: In other news... first new UK nuclear power station approved

        Your numbers are all wrong. Capacity factor for off-shore wind power is around 40%, and modern turbines can give well over 50%: Life expectancy is 20-25 years based on older designs, new turbines should be able to reach 30 years. The area used for off-shore wind farms doesn't matter at all, we won't be running out of sea soon, will we? And you don't need additional backup beyond existing gas peakers and mainland connectors, the number of total windstill days per year across the UK is extremely small.

        As for costs, an off-shore windfarm costs about £4.6 million per 3.6MW turbine installed ( The grid connection is the expensive part if there isn't already one (£862 million for Gabbard). If we scale up to 6400MW (2x peak power needed due to 40% capacity factor vs 80% for nuclear), then the turbine cost would be £8.25 Billion. Add say 3 billion for a high capacity grid connection and you're still way below £14 Billion.

        So yes, even off-shore wind-power is cheaper than new nuclear. And that's assuming that Hinkley C will be on budget - a big assumption.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Down

          Re: In other news... @Wilco 1

          "Capacity factor for off-shore wind power is around 40%,"

          Rubbish. It's 32% like for like on a five year average, according to the wind farm enthusiasts at DECC. Work it out for yourself:

          I work for a company that has interests in all forms of generation, and the costs of renewables are on a par with nuclear. But there's a subtle difference that nuclear usually works when you want it.

          1. Wilco 1

            Re: In other news... @Wilco 1

            "Rubbish. It's 32% like for like on a five year average, according to the wind farm enthusiasts at DECC."

            Rubbish. That's the UK average which includes some farms with low availability (67% vs EU average of 93% for some due to maintenance issues) taking the average down. I provided several links showing 40% average, one for a newly built UK farm (yes it did over 40% since it was completed: and one for Denmark showing newer farms are at 44% average, with some breaking 50%! The capacity factor of the latest turbines has improved a lot so that is the benchmark to use for future wind farms.

      2. Wilco 1

        Re: In other news... first new UK nuclear power station approved

        Oh I forgot: no a 30m tsunami would be ~1m in open sea. Won't take out a single off-shore turbine, ever.

        It really helps if you know what you are talking about...

      3. rh587 Silver badge

        Re: In other news... first new UK nuclear power station approved

        Whilst you make good points about the power-factor and general unpredictability of wind turbines, a tsunami wouldn't actually affect an off-shore farm (unless they're built on an especially shallow sand bank or somewhere barely off-shore). The ships in the Indian Ocean didn't notice as the Boxing Day wave passed beneath them, raising sea level by maybe a metre over a horizontal distance of miles. The wave doesn't start to break (i.e. slow down and start stacking up on top of itself) until it gets near shore, specifically where the water depth is less than 1/2 the wavelength.

        Of course if it breaks over a sand bar, then the ensuing wash up into the North Sea for instance could be quite harmful, as it would be to onshore structures, but wind farms shouldn't really have any problems surviving an unbroken tsunami wave. Of course the power house on the beach where the cables come ashore is basically screwed!

        1. Andydaws

          Re: In other news... first new UK nuclear power station approved


          Offshore turbines are located on shallow water banks for exactly the reason that they can then have proper foundations.

          there are proposals to build floating systems, but so far they're just that or an ocassional prototype. All the actual commercial developments to date, and that are currently in the application process use grouted foundations of one sort or another.

    4. rh587 Silver badge

      Re: In other news... first new UK nuclear power station approved

      Difference between nuclear and wind turbines is that even if nuclear is as expensive as wind, we can turn it on at will. If the wind drops during the ad break in Corrie, then cue the rolling blackouts as 9 million people go and turn on their kettles...

      With current (and near future) technology there is zero prospect of wind or solar providing adequately stable baseload. Tidal is predictable, which is good, but all that means is you can predict that slack-water will occur during said peak hours!

      1. Wilco 1

        Re: In other news... first new UK nuclear power station approved

        Actually wind power is as predictable as tides, you know what weather is coming days ahead and take appropriate action. You could even keep an old coal station as backup for the few rare days when there is no wind at all across the whole of the UK (if you wanted it to be 100% renewable you could burn wood pellets). But in general it is always windy somewhere, so as long as you spread turbines across the UK, you are OK. The same is true for tides, when it is low tide in one place, other places would be at 100% capacity.

        Wind power is never going to be baseload on its own obviously, but combined with tidal, pumped storage, solar etc it can provide a significant percentage of our energy needs without major upheaval to the grid.

        1. Andydaws

          Re: In other news... first new UK nuclear power station approved

          "Actually wind power is as predictable as tides, you know what weather is coming days ahead and take appropriate action"

          Not according to National Grid, based on experience to date:

          "In our previous consultation, it was explained that we had experienced changes in

          wind output of 50% over 2 hours against our current relatively low levels of wind

          penetration. Similar changes in output have been seen in continental Europe where

          there is a higher level of penetration with greater dispersion. It is necessary to ensure

          in the event of a loss of wind output, sufficient reserve is available in appropriate

          timescales to cover such an eventuality. .....

          ..... the forecast aligns with actual generation for a majority of the

          week. However, within each week there is one day where the error is significant.

          It is apparent from Figure 2, that in this instance the forecast profile for 26-February

          was consistent with the actual output, but the magnitude or level of output was over

          forecast by between approximately 30% and 80% over the 26th February 2010....

          ...An additional operational challenge that will increasingly present itself in the future is

          that which can be termed wind cut-out. This occurs when wind speeds are sufficiently

          high that wind turbines automatically shut down to maintain structural integrity.

          6.19 The speed at which this happens will vary depending on the location and size of wind

          turbine, although on-shore turbines tend to cut out at wind speeds of ~25m/s.

          6.20 National Grid has recently witnessed such an event, when wind speeds in Scotland

          were sufficiently high to create this phenomenon. National Grid does not currently

          have the wind speed data for all wind farm locations; however, Figure 5 illustrates the

          effect witnessed on 3-February 2011.

          6.21 The effect of cut out can have a significant impact, not only due to the resultant loss

          in expected generation but also the speed and additional uncertainty that can arise

          when production starts again as wind speed drops. In the example shown above, a

          significant decrease in generation occurred when wind speed exceeded 25m/s, which

          resulted in a reduction of ~50% of the wind production over the course of an hour. As

          wind speed dropped below 20m/s, output was restored before a further loss a short

          period afterwards."

          not THAT predictable, then.......

        2. Anonymous Coward

          Re: In other news... first new UK nuclear power station approved

          "Wind power is never going to be baseload on its own obviously, but combined with tidal, pumped storage, solar etc it can provide a significant percentage of our energy needs without major upheaval to the grid."

          You really know nothing about the electricity sector, do you? The mandated use of renewables is saving stuff all in emissions, but destroys the system marginal pricing model. That makes the thermal plant that renewables require for back up uneconomic, meaning they go off grid and you suffer the consequences, or you pay even more subsidies to keep them on grid. That's already happening in Germany and Italy, where laws are being passed to try and stop the decomissioning of uneconomic plant, in a Canute like attempt to avoid the economic inevitable. The UK isn't far behind, and with the idiotic decommissionings of LCPD you can be sure no good will come of it.

          Despite your protestations, wind output is not reliably enough forecast for thermal plant to be switched off, but hey, what do I know, I only work for a company that operates over 4GW of wind turbines.

          1. Andydaws

            Re: In other news... first new UK nuclear power station approved

            "and with the idiotic decommissionings of LCPD you can be sure no good will come of it"

            that I part company with you on - the LCPD adresses SOx, NOx and particulates emissions. The fact that we've screwed up on timing is one thing - retiring plant that can't be economically retrofitted with control kit for those can't be a bad thing at least in principle.

        3. Andydaws

          Re: In other news... first new UK nuclear power station approved

          "But in general it is always windy somewhere, so as long as you spread turbines across the UK, you are OK. The same is true for tides, when it is low tide in one place, other places would be at 100% capacity."

          The UK certainly isn't big enough to get significant dispersion as far as wind is concerned - in fact, even across North-West europe, there's still significant coupling (all our weather systems are driven by the same Atlantic systems).

          And with tide, although there's some staggering, it's not that great - after all, it's the same moon that's pullling for all of us.

          The bigger issue with tide, tbh, is sheer cost. It's bad enough on the Severn, which is about the best site in europe - where £20-30Bn for an average output is bad enough. But that's cheap compare to other sites, resulting in probable costs in the area of £300/MWh.

          Tidal output is broadly proportionate to the tidal range - up to 7 metres on the Severn. Costs are mostly driven by civil engineering costs in building the barrage.

          Think about doing the same on something like the Mersey or the Wash, and you're doubling the size of the civil works to move similar volumes of water, and half the tidal range. Tidal is VERY site conditions dependent.

        4. peter_dtm

          wilco 1

          excuse me while I wipe my eyes & pick myself off the floor and recover from laughing.

          IT IS NOT ALWAYS WINDY SOMEWHERE near enough to be worth having an interconnector join. In fact a cold day in European winter is often windless over most of the NW Europe

          A few rare days - on average over the last few tears that would be some 3 weeks per year of NO WIND in NW EUROPE - and it is always COLD so demand is at PEAK

          Look here : then compare the wind farm output against demand - is there any corelation - only with when it's cold in winter the output is down.

          You obviously have no concept of tidal flow; marine engineering or just how you are going to connect all those little tidal gennerators into the grid ?

          Every windmill and every tidal generator and every PV panel HAS TO have a proper power station to back it up - so since you can not just turn a power station on & off - you may as well save the cost (and raw materials) involved in building stuff that is not demand lead generating capacity.

          If you really believe that renewables can replace proper power stations - use the link ( to work out how much 'lecky you can draw at any given time - when the wind ain't blowint and the sun's in bed then you can turn all your electricity OFF.

          Pumped storage where are you going to put it ?

          ANy idea of what 30GW of electricity looks like as pumped storage ? Oh my; I'd like to see you get that lot past the greenies - even 10% of it.

          laugh - I nearly died

          1. Wilco 1

            Re: peter_dtm

            Well better not read your own post then, you will laugh so hard at the total BS you wrote you might actually die this time... 30GW of pumped storage, what the hell would you need that for? Every single solar panel needs a power station as backup?!? Where on earth did you pull that stuff from? Oh, I know, did you forget to take your meds?

            1. peter_dtm

              Re: peter_dtm

              30 GW is normal minimum demand (although it does occaisionally go lower)

              If you don't understand the problem of intermittent un-predicatable generation then ther is no hope for you.

              When the sun ain't shining sunshine; in the UK - in winter it tends to be COLD - so demand tends to be high.

              Now if ALL the PV is OFF; and the wind aint blowing just where are you going to magik all that electricity from ??

              Pull it out of a hat ?

              Oh I know - says the non technocal I don't know or care how it works clever dick - we'll use pumped storge.

              So if we have no coal; no gas no nuclear you need to make 30GW. If your backup to useless windmills and low efficiency PV is pumped storage you'll need 30GW of pumped storage.

              Or are you happy for the lights to go out ?

              What else could we use as backup to PV & Wind ? -- well since you need to provision for when it's night time & the wind aint blowing; why don't we use err ??

              Nuclear; Coal & Gas are good reliable ways to produce on demand electricity. Until someone comes up with a way to store 30GW any thing ellse currently proposed (wind/solar/tidal) is a waste of money/resources/effort

              1. Wilco 1

                Re: peter_dtm

                No we don't need 30GW of backup or storage. We already have existing power stations that provide the baseload. Nobody ever claimed we should get rid of those. And neither do we need to build any new power stations to backup solar/wind - we already have them! When it is windstill we do exactly the same as we currently do when a power station has an unexpected problem and goes offline in mere seconds - hydro/peakers and other power stations pick up the slack. Luckily wind and solar are far more predictable than those kinds of events...

                It's not possible to store 30GW today. But we don't ever need to, so stop making the claim that renewables require that kind of storage. They don't and never will. What's more, suggesting that renewables are useless because of that is even more stupid. The fact is we can't go 100% nuclear either. How do you follow the demand curve? Nuclear can't do that so of course it's completely useless! Neither 100% coal - way too slow for demand, completely useless! Nor 100% gas - where on earth do we get that much gas from? Stop people from cooking and heating their homes??? So according to your logic nuclear, coal and gas are all useless and a complete waste of money/resources/effort...

    5. Not That Andrew

      Re: In other news... first new UK nuclear power station approved

      The ridiculous rate for the electricity is just one of the many bribes, sorry "incentives", the government paid to EDF to build the plant. When EDF saw how desperate the government was for this plant they decided to pretend to be reluctant to see how much they could get out of the British government. I don't think they were expecting quite so much, though.

  4. Rukario

    Was it an annoying yellow rat?

    ピカピ! ピカピカ! ピカチュウ!!

    1. James O'Shea Silver badge

      Re: Was it an annoying yellow rat?

      Those are all North Korean.

      1. Rukario

        Re: Was it an annoying yellow rat?

        Obviously missed the reference...

        A power supply purely of Japanese invention.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You actually take TEPCO's word for it?

    Damn TEPCO and all those that got kick backs. Nothing much has changed to prevent this from happening again. "This" as in a lots of people dying, getting ripped off, scammed, maimed, sick, etc., because of some official's greed and the time honored tradition of being ambiguous.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You actually take TEPCO's word for it?

      Why let the facts get in the way of a good scare, eh?

      Fact is nobody at all died, and one person got scalded by hot water.

      I'm reasonably sure that is the full extent of the injuries from this plant.

      Compare it to the immense death toll from the tsunami itself, and stop being hysterical.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Loyal Commenter

          Re: You actually take TEPCO's word for it?

          Nowhere have I read that 'independent experts' have said that there will be a substantial death toll.

          The 'article' you link is an out-of-context quote from a winess of the thee-mile-island accident, flasely comparing the fukishima meltdown to the explosion of the Bhopal isocyanate plant which kileld thousands of people in a pretty horffic way.

          The actual facts are, that during one of the worst natural disaters in living history, in which hundreds of thousands of people were killed, a nuclear plant, which was swamped by the tsunami, and melted down, did, in fact, kill noone*, and that radiation levels are now pretty much back to the background level. Your scremongering is nothing less than astounding.

          *Some people did in fact die, or a listed as missing, in the Fukushima plant as a result of the tsunami, but none are directly attributable to the nuclear plant itself, rather than being swamped by millions of tonnes of water and debris.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: You actually take TEPCO's word for it?

            @Loyal Commenter

            Bhopal??? Did you even read the article?! He's talking about the FUTURE not today :-

            “The problem is there are 130 million people (sic) in Japan,” he said on a recent visit to Tokyo. “A third of them will die from cancer in the next 30 years. One million more is less than 2 percent — are you going to find it?”


    2. itzman

      Re: You actually take TEPCO's word for it?

      Pardon? No one has died because of TEPCO at all.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Loyal Commenter

          Re: You actually take TEPCO's word for it?

          If I took the time to read all the obviously partisan rubbish on the internet, I'd have to spend my entire life debunking bullshit. How about you engage your brain and try using rational thought. A million extra people have not died as a result of Chernobyl; an accident where an un-contained reactor caught fire and essentially showered the surrounding area in bits of burning reactor core. if you believe very unsubstantiate made up number spouted on the internet, thenthere is little hope for you. Fukushima was nothing like Chernobyl, the core was contained, it didn't burn, no core material was released (although radioactive gases were released from the reactor coolant). This accident was orders of magnitude less serious, and yet the accident you compare it to killed relatively few people, most of whome were plant operators, and the clean-up crew, some of whom actually survived being dosed with amounts of radiation normally expected to be fatal. IIRC, one of the survivors actually accidentally looked directly at the exposed Chernobyl core as it was burning, something that should have killed him many times over, but actually didn't.

          It's probably worth pointing out also that increased cancer risk doesn't equate to increased deaths. The most common type of cancer caused by such types of exposure is thyroid cancer, caused by exposure to radioactive iodine. The survivability of thyroid cancer is >95% over ten years, which is very good, because such tumours are generally easy to locate, easy to remove, and don't metastasise.

          So no, I don't take TEPCO's word for it, but I also rate your AC rantings as considerably less reliable.

      2. Rampant Spaniel

        Re: You actually take TEPCO's word for it?

        Thats not entirely true, a rat did valiantly perish whilst trying to initiate an unplanned test of backup cooling systems (i.e. a bucket chain).

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Rats, whilst

    they are exterminated here, are routinely let loose in houses in Japan as a sign of prosperity, if you have rats in the house, then the house is good as the rats are happy to live there. Sort of mentality.

    Now, as japan doesnt have a sewerage system like ours (apparently) they are far less likely to carry diseases. Personally, i'd still kill the buggers though....Prosperous or otherwise.

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      "japan doesnt have a sewerage system like ours"

      Citation needed. Seriously, I really want to know where the shit from all those internet enabled toilets goes.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: "japan doesnt have a sewerage system like ours"

        I was only made aware of this myself yesterday (hence the disclaimer) but its due to the amount of minor earthquakes apparently....

        No reason to doubt my source...


  7. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How does the Corp who caused the mess by cutting corners for $ get to run the clean-up?

      Good grief! There's still someone who trusts BBC reports and views!!!!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How does the Corp who caused the mess by cutting corners for $ get to run the clean-up?

        Downvoted as this has nothing to do with the BBC. The Fukushima nuclear crisis was 'man-made'

        It was widely reported all over the internet due to a damning Japanese Parliamentary report.

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Horridbloke

    Black Sheep is not a Peter Jackson film

    That is all.

    1. Gazareth

      Re: Black Sheep is not a Peter Jackson film

      But his company Weta Workshops were heavily involved.

      And it's more or less a remake of Brain Dead, which actually is Peter Jackson's best work.

  11. Andydaws

    Pity no-one did the maths......

    One thing that was notable in the Press coverage, (and, to be fair, the TEPCO intial press release) is that no-one bothered doing the numbers on how hot the pools were likely to get (not least since they'd have to be boiled to call cause a problem).

    all of the following, btw, is the sort of stuff you'd be taught in the first term of the heat transfer course of an engineering degree (or cold work out from A level physics), so we certainly aren't talking rocket science....

    First off, how much heat is being produced. The Unit 4 SFP is the "hottest" so we'll wok around that.

    At the time of the accident there were 784 older assemblies in there, making about 400KW of heat in total, and 584 "new" assemblies which had been out of the core for about 2 months, making about 1.87MW.

    For the newer fuel, taking an initial average production of (1870/584) = 3.2 KW/assembly. but that was at the time of the accident. The standard decay curve for spent fuel is shown in the slide headed "Decay heat in Light Water Reactor Fuel) from

    60 days is about 6*10^6 seconds. We're now at about 800 days from the fuel being removed from the reactor, so about 7*10^7 seconds. Using the ratio between 10^6 seconds after shutdown and 10^7 seconds (which will be near enough for a rough calculation), that says the newer fuel assemblies will be making about 1/3rd the amount of heat they were at the time of the accident. So about (3.2/3=~ 1000 watts each).

    The older ones will also have decayed, but not by much - so we'll ignore that.

    total heat production will therefore be about 1MW. (584KW from the newer fuel, 400KW form the older)

    OK, what's the heat balance...


    The pond contains about 1240 cubic metres/tonnes of water - there's also racking etc. in there, but we'll ignore that for the sake of simplicity.

    If it's heating that mass of water through 1C takes 1.24*10^6*4.2*10^3 joules = 5.2*10^9 joules. 5.5C in 15 hours is 1*10^-4 C/second.

    So, 5.2*10^5 joules/second (or 520KW) was going into heating the water on average over the time that the active cooling was off. The rest is being lost to ambient (in the absence of forced cooling) - so about 480KW, or about 50% of the total for this rough calculation

    Heat loss from a fluid surface (in the absence of boiling), and by convection/conduction through the walls of the tank is proportional to the temperature differential to ambient.

    If ambient is about 12C, then the average delta so far has been about (30-12) = 18C. 2 times that is 36C, which suggests the whole system would be in equilibrium with the water at around 48 - 50C so, no mass boiling.

    You'd nee to periodically dribble some water in to make up for evaporation - but that's about it. Any boiling seems highly unlikely.

    1. Andydaws

      Re: Pity no-one did the maths......

      Always amusing to see downvotes, but no comment arguing the point made.

      I can only assume it's done by people who don't like the message, but lack the firepower to make an argument against what was said!

      1. dwieske

        Re: Pity no-one did the maths......

        or people are tired wasting time on comments made by clueless people and just want to get rid of the comments... not a single doomsday scenario has even come close to fruition, barely a single argument contra has any basis in science.....people need to learn to be quiet about topics they are totally clueless about (which sadly seems to be pretty much all the science articles)

  12. Schultz

    Will it survive an earthquake?

    Who cares, I demand that all nuclear installations are rat-proofed immediately!

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Will it survive an earthquake?

      "100% rat-rated"

  13. sandman

    Smelling a rat

    Something similar happened at a place I was working. Our control panels were housed in a shipping container. One day we lost all power and a thin stinking smoke started coming out of the top of the door. naturally we didn't panic (much) and carefully opened the door....

    Took us ages to find the fault. A rat had crawled up the main cable through the hole in the floor, put one of its tiny feet on a 440 volt bus bar and exploded. One foot print on the copper and singed body parts everywhere else behind the panels.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Smelling a rat

      There are reliable figures that suggest upto a 3rd of unexplained house fires are rodent related and i can well believe it. I have seen rodents (Rodents, from Rodere "to gnaw") gnaw through copper, thin sheet steel, wire reinforced water pipes, bricks, wood, cement, plastic, in fact, there isn't much they wont gnaw to keep those teeth sharp!!!

      They are (in the UK) a dangerous pest that should not be sharing our homes or buildings.

      As a trained pestie i have no compunctions about killing them....

  14. a_mu

    Nuc, why not

    Strikes me that its not the Nuc thing thats the worry, its the shocking in competence of the operators and managers that's the killer.

    did any one else see the bbc 2 Challenger program the other night ?

    could be re titled, Nasa ups and downs Apollo 1 to Challenger.

  15. M7S

    Spooky timing

    James Herbert dies and rats have been found trying to infiltrate our nuclear facilities.

  16. ecofeco Silver badge

    Further Proof

    Further proof that Fukushima was an old plant that wasn't properly maintained.

    It's as plain as... a rat in switchboard.

  17. David Kelly 2

    Outlaw Rats!

    Sadly I don't hear a cry to outlaw rats.

    Is surprising this sort of thing hasn't happened more often as the plant was 45 years old, which means it was at least a 50 year old design. Back then we had no experience in nuclear power, and knew less than Sen. Dianne Feinstein knows about guns. Today we have lots of combat experience and could build much safer nuclear power plants than even 10 years ago, if only we were allowed.

    Sadly the only state of the art nuclear plants being built are in China, by Westinghouse. And you know good and well once these reactors are finished and in operation China will clone them without paying foreigners or license fees.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      I am Bear ... WELCOME TO RUSSIA!

      Amazingly, it seems that in spite of the Yurop and the USUK FEARTRAIN, fast breeders are being built. Mainly in Russia though (insert picture of a flaming taxi with bear riding shotgun barrelling down a street):

  18. Matto in AUS

    Nuclear mutant rats wreaking havoc?

    Has anyone called the Turtles?

    Seriously, has anyone????

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Nuclear mutant rats wreaking havoc?

      It sounds more like the Whales outsourced their revenge!

This topic is closed for new posts.