Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What Went Wrong In Fukushima: The Human Factor

Japanese officials are still trying to understand all the factors that contributed to the meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. Officials already have concluded that the plant was not designed to withstand the 40-foot tsunami that hit it on March 11. But it is also likely that workers at the plant could have reduced the severity of the accident if they had made different decisions during the crisis. One critical decision was whether to pump seawater into the reactors. That would certainly ruin them, but it could also keep them cool and prevent meltdowns. It appears that the engineers on site hesitated for some hours before they went ahead and did that. Berkeley Lab's Per Peterson says that was a questionable decision. More>