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This is an enormous bureaucracy/organizational/communications disaster. METI and TEPCO are spending way too much time and resources to polish up the "message" while their primary duty is to run a complex system in an emergency. They don't seem to know much other than what the emergency manual says. There must be genuinely innovative hands at work, but too much of their time must be being taken up by producing and revising reports and create a consistent narrative, as opposed to devise and experiment solutions.

Can anyone imagine 4 nuclear reactor structures would be blown off for exactly the same cause one after another? WTF have they been doing in between?

If the disaster is somehow contained, it will be the result of sheer luck and the worksmanship of Toshiba who built the plant.

I will become a patissier, God willing.

by tuasfait on Tue Mar 15th, 2011 at 06:54:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can anyone imagine 4 nuclear reactor structures would be blown off for exactly the same cause one after another?

Well, No. 2 could have been a steam explosion (pouring water on superheated exposed metal). What's also striking is that damage cascaded: first too much attention paid to cool the spent fuel rods in No. 2 (this is what TEPCO didn't inform the public about and we only heard about via NYT), so problems emerge in the reactor cores themselves; then the second hydrogen explosion at the No. 3 reactor knocks out the water pumps at No. 2 and damages the building of No. 4, then the fallout from the explosion and fire at No. 4 hinders continued work at the seawater-flooded reactors...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Mar 15th, 2011 at 07:29:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... interruption of cooling, when the batteries ran out (8 hours after the tsunami, according to the official narrative). They completely dropped the ball at that stage. Criminal incompetence.

Since then, they've been playing catch-up.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Mar 15th, 2011 at 08:02:07 AM EST
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They completely dropped the ball at that stage. Criminal incompetence.

How do you know what their options were and what they could have done which they didn't? I say the jury is out on incompetence vs. design deficiency.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Mar 15th, 2011 at 08:23:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given the reactor design, continuity of active cooling is an obligation.

  1. The backup generators' electrical system was vulnerable to a tsunami. Criminal incompetence.

  2. Necessarily, they had a plan for what to do when the backup generators failed. If they didn't have a plan : criminal incompetence.

3)If the plan was to truck in generators in case the on-site generators failed, but the plan didn't specify to check that they had the right connectors : criminal incompetence.

4) If the trucking in of generators was completely improvised, but by bad luck, the connectors were incompatible, then... see 2.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Mar 15th, 2011 at 10:24:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
was vulnerable to a tsunami. Criminal incompetence.

Or, more likely, design fault. The plant was tsunami-protected, but not against a tsunami of this magnitude.

they had a plan for what to do when the backup generators failed.

The plan was to attach mobile trucks, and it was tried. Sources differ on why that failed (some say a 60/50 Hz issue, others say that the sockets were tsunami-damaged, too). Again, it could be both design fault and incompetence. Do you know what failure modes were taken into account in the design? I don't think so.

I note that design deficiencies don't necessarily result from incompetence. They can also result from failure to foresee certain failure scenarios (which I'd argue is more or less natural for something as complicated and with as many critical parts as a nuclear plant: there are just too many and human fantasy is limited) and both criminal and not criminal risk/benefit calculations.

TEPCO can be accused of a lot, but I don't think we know enough to know what exactly happened. We only know that the plant wasn't safe.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Mar 15th, 2011 at 12:03:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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