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Comparison Of Two System Failure Incidents

2005 words - 8 pages

1. Introduction
This report will take a detailed look at 2 separate system failure incidents that have taken place in recent years, similar only in their fatal outcomes that had a detrimental effect on many parts of human infrastructure, both locally and around the globe. First incident to be looked at is Fukushima NPS disaster. Second incident is the Tenroku gas explosion accident.
2. Fukushima Nuclear Power Station catastrophe
2.1 Brief description
Location: Japan, Island of Honshu (mainland), Fukushima prefecture.
Period of critical events: 11th to 15th March 2011
On 11th March 2011, Japan has felt the 9.0 magnitude earthquake (most commonly known as the Tōhoku earthquake) which was followed by a 14-meter tsunami wave approaching from the northern coast of island of Honshu. Fukushima Daiichi power plant, operated by TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company), had a wall around it of 10.5 feet and also being located on a cliff 13 feet above the sea level, giving a total height of 23.5 feet (≈7.2 meters). But the wave was almost twice the size of this figure and overwhelmed the plant in mere seconds. The flooding of the plant’s facilities resulted in severe damage & inevitable shutdown of the cooling systems which in turn triggered full meltdown of the 3, functioning at the time, nuclear reactors, causing a release of radioactive elements into the air [1]. An emergency evacuation was issued on March 12, ordering to evacuate all civilians within 20km radius of the Daiichi plant [2]. The chain of unfortunate events continued on for the next few days (hydrogen explosions, radioactive water leak) and the long-term consequences are yet to be fully supressed, some of which cannot be mitigated, as they are mostly outside of human control.
2.2 Description of failure reasons
The circumstances that shaped the final outcome of March 11 can be traced back to even before the plant began construction in 1967. The main reasons can be summarized into general ignorance of potential danger, commonly practiced by TEPCO authorities.
From the early days of the project, the authorities at TEPCO had held economic convenience in a higher regard than safety normative, thus shamelessly disregarding common safety practices during and after construction of the plant. Knowing that Japan stands on the intersection of 3 tectonic plates, which is the source of frequent earthquakes and tsunami, the safety measures towards guarding from potential natural disasters were almost completely ignored in the project safety plans. The considered tsunami wave height was too low, resulting in a very small wall being built around the facility. The placement of emergency cooling diesel generators was not done with flooding in mind, which caused them to be washed away with the tsunami wave, cutting almost all power from the emergency cooling systems, which activated during the preceding earthquake. There were many concerns about the vulnerability of Fukushima plants prior to the events of March...

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