Japan:Cooling system stopped without director’s consent
Laaska news Dec. 22, 2011
A panel investigating the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says operators halted one of the reactors’ emergency cooling systems without informing the plant director.
This suspension on March 13th allowed reactor No.3 to heat up for nearly 7 hours before it finally melted down causing a hydrogen explosion the following day.
The government panel says the operators stopped the cooling system in the early hours of March 13th. They tried to use fire pumps instead because they were afraid the system’s batteries might lose power.
But the panel says the operators could not pump water into the reactor since there was no power to open the reactor’s valves. Without it, they were unable to reduce the inside pressure and pump water in.
By the time the operators gave up on the pumps and tried to switch to the cooling system again, it wouldn’t restart. They finally managed to pump water into the reactor 7 hours later using car batteries to open the valves.
The panel says the director was only informed about the suspension more than one hour after it occurred.
Meanwhile, the panel says similar suspensions were made at the reactor No.1 without reporting to the director. The director believed the cooling system was still in operation.
In an interim report to be released on Monday, the panel will point out that a lack of communications between the on-site operators and the headquarters helped cause a delay in dealing with the accident.