Rat caused power outage in Fukushima cooling systems -Tepco

TOKYO, March 26 Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:50pm EDT

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TOKYO, March 26 (Reuters) - Tokyo Electric Power Co on Tuesday blamed a rat for a 29-hour halt in power used to help cool spent nuclear fuel rods at its Fukushima plant last week, saying the rodent had triggered a circuit breaker after touching exposed wires.

There was no threat of overheating or radiation releases after the outage, according to the firm, but the incident underlines the fragile state of the Fukushima Daiichi plant in the wake of meltdowns two years ago.

The company, also known as Tepco, said it had found a dead rat which appeared to have suffered an electric shock near a temporary switchboard used to supply power to cooling systems at three fuel pools in the facility, devastated by a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

Tepco resumed operations by midnight on March 19 after electricity went out a day earlier.

The utility faces a raft of hurdles as it works to decommission the Fukushima Daiichi complex, in an unprecedented clean-up effort expected to take decades.

Earlier this month, a Tepco official said the company is struggling to stop groundwater flooding into damaged reactors and it may take four years to fix the problem. (Reporting by Risa Maeda; Editing by Joseph Radford)

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