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Why Tokai No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant Survived March 193

Kyusaku Natsume writes "In a potentially damning report, the Japanese government panel probing the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown has learned that the nuclear power plant Tokai No.2 avoided station blackout thanks to making a 6.1 m high seawall, but TEPCO failed to do the same in Fukushima. From the article: 'The tsunami that hit the Tokai plant on March 11 were 5.3 to 5.4 meters in height, exceeding the company's earlier estimate but coming in around 30 to 40 cm lower than its revised projection. After the tsunami hit, the Tokai plant lost external power just like Fukushima No. 1 did, because the sea wall was overrun, knocking out one of its three seawater pumps. But its reactors succeeded in achieving cold shutdown because the plant's emergency diesel generator was being cooled by the two seawater pumps that survived intact.'"
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Why Tokai No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant Survived March

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  • inapt comparison (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 0WaitState ( 231806 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2011 @12:01AM (#37827802)

    Fukushima had multiple hardware failures, correctable design problems, and crappy management. The failure was not just due to a low seawall.

    1. Reactor 1's cooling system likely failed due to the quake, not the failure of the backup diesels. This opinion is based on analysis of the remaining sensors, that indicated the reactor was having problems even while the battery-powered cooling was still running. The existing plumbing and wiring had been embrittled from 4 decades of operation in a quake zone and proximity to, well, a nuclear reactor.

    2. Design flaw and hardware failure: locating the backup diesel generators in a basement under the reactors, such that they were guaranteed to flood if water entered the area.

    3. Design flaw: locating the spent fuel pools directly above the reactors in the same buildings, such that if the reactor had a little problem (hydrogen explosion, or moderated prompt criticality), said fuel would get blown sky-high, which it did in the reactor 3 explosion.

    4. Design flaw: no externally located terminals for "connect portable generators HERE", and no rationalization of Japan's two different electrical standards (it's a fucking nuclear power plant that will blow up if not cooled, so support both standards, guys).

    5. Management failure: All reactors should have been flooded with seawater immediately after the quake, as soon as the situation on the ground at the site became clear. This might have averted the hydrogen explosion by keeping the reactors cool enough to not oxidize the zirconium fuel-rod cladding. Local personnel correctly identified the situation, remote management denied permission to flood the reactors with seawater (because that basically ends the reactor's productive life). Eventually a local guy did so anyways.

  • Bairly survived (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheInternetGuy ( 2006682 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2011 @12:16AM (#37827872)
    It may have survived, but it did so hanging on by a hair. The article only mentions the pumps, but in fact two of the three diesel generators were also out of order. Which means this could easily have turned real bad really fast.
    Quoting Wikipedia. []

    Following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami the number 2 reactor was one of eleven nuclear reactors nationwide to be shut down automatically.[4] It was reported on 14 March that a cooling system pump for the number 2 reactor had stopped working.[5] Japan Atomic Power Company stated that there was a second operational pump and cooling was working, but that two of three diesel generators used to power the cooling system were out of order.[6]

    Also it remains to see if the reactor will survive politically. The Mayor of Tokai Mura has called on the government to decommission the number 2 reactor which is over 30 years old. There is a population of over one million people living within a 30km radius of the plant. And they have lost their confidence in the governments ability to safely run the plant. The well known Tokai Mura critically accidents a number of years ago probably didn't do much to boost their confidence either.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheInternetGuy ( 2006682 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2011 @12:55AM (#37828052)
    It is not that easy. Reactor no2 in Tokai mura came closer to disaster than anyone wants to admit. Two pumps may have survived, but only one generator (out of three) was working. Had it failed, the result would likely have been similar to Fukushima. That being said. It is my impression (as someone living in the vicinity) that Japan Atomic Power is running things a lot more responsibly than TEPCO. But then again the TM power plants used to be under direct control of JAEA, and JAP was created only when JAEA came under some heavy criticism after earlier incidents.

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