Posted by jlwile on March 15, 2011
My previous post gave several details regarding the problems that are plaguing the Japanese nuclear power plants right now. I wanted to add one bit of information that I learned this morning.
It turns out that the Japanese nuclear reactors did have diesel generators as a backup system. So when the earthquake took out the nation’s power grid, the cooling systems were running fine off their diesel generators. If that were the end of the story, there would not be any serious nuclear-power-plant problems now. Unfortunately, when the tsunami hit later on, the saltwater infiltrated the generators, making them nonfunctional. That’s when the plants had to switch to battery power.
So it turns out that it took a “one-two” punch to put the Japanese nuclear power plants where they are now. The earthquake by itself wouldn’t have been a problem for the power plants. It was the earthquake followed by the tsunami that did them in.