The authors have spoken to several workers at the plant. Each recites the same story: Serious damage to piping and at least one of the reactors before the tsunami hit. All have requested anonymity because they are still working at or connected with the stricken plant. Worker A, a 27-year-old maintenance engineer who was at the Fukushima complex on March 11, recalls hissing, leaking pipes.
“I personally saw pipes that had come apart and I assume that there were many more that had been broken throughout the plant. There’s no doubt that the earthquake did a lot of damage inside the plant. There were definitely leaking pipes, but we don’t know which pipes – that has to be investigated. I also saw that part of the wall of the turbine building for reactor one had come away. That crack might have affected the reactor.”
The walls of the reactor are quite fragile, he notes.
“If the walls are too rigid, they can crack under the slightest pressure from inside so they have to be breakable because if the pressure is kept inside and there is a buildup of pressure, it can damage the equipment inside the walls. So it needs to be allowed to escape. It’s designed to give during a crisis, if not it could be worse – that might be shocking to others, but to us it’s common sense.”
WORKER B, a technician in his late thirties who was also on site at the time of the earthquake recalls what happened.
“It felt like the earthquake hit in two waves, the first impact was so intense you could see the building shaping, the pipes buckling, and within minutes, I saw pipes bursting. Some fell off the wall. Others snapped. I’m pretty sure that some of the oxygen tanks stored on site had exploded but I didn’t see for myself. Someone yelled that we all needed to evacuate. I was severely alarmed because as I was leaving I was told, and I could see, that several pipes had cracked open, including what I believe were cold water supply pipes. That would mean that coolant couldn’t get to the reactor core. If you can’t get sufficient coolant to the core, it melts down. You don’t have to be a nuclear scientist to figure that out.”
Plus: Fukushima fucked up beyond our wildest nightmares