It's another week and another chance for TEPCO to embarrass itself at the beleaguered Fukushima power plant. Sometime on Monday morning, the cooling pump for the reactors shut down suddenly. It must've been some mechanical failure or some freak accident, right? Nah. Some worker just pushed the off button by mistake, according to the Nuclear Regulation Authority.
TEPCO was a little more guarded in their explanation of what happened and said it was either human error (read: careless button-pushing) or a faulty electric switchboard. Either way, it's really bad news if that cooling system shuts down, because that's the thing keeping the core from melting down.
In the end, everything turned out okay. The backup cooling system kicked in, and the workers running the plant figured out how to "un-push" the button or do whatever they had to do to get those pumps working again. However, the incident is especially embarrassing for TEPCO, which just can't stop screwing up. Just last week, some workers spilled 114 gallons of radioactive water because they tried to pour it in a tank that was already full. Already full!
So pony up, TEPCO. After all, you're from the country that makes perfect cars, perfect sushi, perfect bicycles, perfect everything. But you can't press the right buttons while operating a nuclear power plant? Bummer. [Reuters, NYT]