Peter Behr, E&E reporter
EnergyWire: Monday, March 14, 2016
On March 11, 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Japan’s east coast was designed to withstand a magnitude-7-plus earthquake. A flood wall 18 feet high stood between the plant and the Pacific. But the Great East Japan earthquake that day measured magnitude 9, unleashing a tsunami that topped 45 feet.
The plant was inundated, backup generators were flooded and fuel supplies were swept away. Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) emergency crews soon were without any electric power to run cooling water recirculation pumps to prevent the meltdowns of three reactor cores, explosions from leaking hydrogen, and the second-worst nuclear power accident in history. TEPCO workers, who could not know whether their families were among the 18,500 people killed or missing, had to battle through a horrific crisis they had never prepared for, subsequent investigation found.