Tepco, the operator of the ill-fated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant might have found the culprit responsible for the plant’s partial meltdown and it has four legs and a wiggly tail.
Of course, the disaster was caused by an earthquake, followed by a massive tsunami, but it was preventable. The plant experienced an extended blackout that disabled its cooling systems, causing multiple reactors to overheat, suffer partial meltdowns and release enough radiation to create more than five Godzillas.
Now, it seems the unfortunate power outage might have been caused by an equally unfortunate rat, who found his way into a switchboard, caused a short circuit and was promptly dispatched to Rat Heck. Engineers found the rat’s body inside a faulty switchboard, and discovered that he’d been gnawing away at the wires when he met his maker.
Tepco had previously blamed the faulty switchboard for the power failure. The outage cut off the flow of cooling water to four pools used to store more than 8,800 spent fuel rods. It took the company almost two days to restore cooling to the pools. Sadly, efforts to cool down the reactors weren’t as successful.
Now it seems that a single rat might have contributed to the biggest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, which seems like an improvement, as the Chernobyl disaster was completely avoidable. It was caused by Soviet paranoia and general stupidity. Someone in the chain of command conveniently forgot to tell reactor operators that lowering graphite tipped control rods in RMBK reactors can cause a brief power surge when reinserted into the core. The same phenomenon was observed at the Ignalina nuke plant a couple of years earlier, but nobody got the memo, leaving large chunks of Belarus and Ukraine irradiated and uninhabitable.
Clearly, the world has made a lot of progress over the past three decades: instead of blaming pinko commies for nuclear tragedies we've moved onto rodents. The rat did it.
The fact that the Fukushima Daiichi plant was built on the coast and that its cleverly designed redundant generators were all flooded in a matter of minutes probably had nothing to do with the disaster at all.