Thursday, March 21, 2013

Rat tries to start a nuclear meltdown

I usually refrain from posting photos of dead animals on this blog, but I am making an exception in this important case, because HOLY SHIT this dead rat almost caused a nuclear meltdown.

Perhaps I exaggerate slightly, but here's the deal: As you surely remember, a little over two years ago, an earthquake and tsunami hit the Fukushima nuclear power plant complex in Japan, causing meltdowns in several reactors, massive evacuations and abandonment of entire towns, and worldwide panic.

Everything's supposedly under control now... or it was till Monday, when a power failure caused cooling systems to shut down to three spent fuel rod pools. Investigations revealed the dead rat in the above picture  that apparently caused a short-circuit that shut the power off.

As is often the case, there's plenty of human blame to go around here as well. The power setup was described as a "makeshift" arrangement in the back of a truck that's been parked at the facility since May 2011. Allegedly it was planned to be permanently replaced at the end of the month, but in the meantime, Tepco power company officials admitted they'd never made any effort to keep wildlife away - in fact, the container around the switchboard has a half-open door around the cables that lead into it.

It's expected to take decades to fully decommission the plant and of course the leftover fuel will be dangerous for far longer. Let's hope the power company has learned its lesson and mounts some defenses against further animal incursions. Sure, in the end our species is probably our own worst enemy, but let's not actually make it easy for animals to get in on the game, OK?

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