No doubt there’s a lot that I don’t understand, but a few things seem really weird, with the benefit of hindsight.
A lot has been made of how earthquake proof these stations were, and yet it seems that it was probably the tsunami that buggered up the backup generators. I’m no seismologist, but even I know that earthquakes and tsunamis tend to go hand in hand when you’re on the coast. So what exactly was the plan? Surely they must have thought about it, so what went wrong?
It also seems quite common for nuclear power stations to contain multiple reactors. Presumably there’s an argument for this, based on minimising the number of sites, and sharing infrastructure. Presumably there’s also a large nimby factor which makes it much more likely that a second reactor gets sighted where there’s already one. That said, isn’t it Pretty Fucking Obvious that the last thing you want to be next to, if you’re trying to battle with a malfunctioning nuclear reactor, is another (possibly malfunctioning) reactor?
Another thing that is puzzling me is that that the reactors apparently shut down automatically in response to the earthquake, and yet this seems to have been a large part of the problem. Presumably it was the automatic shutdown with caused the loss of power to the cooling systems, thus requiring the backup generators which then went wrong or ran out of fuel or whatever actually happened. Yet the failure of the cooling systems seems to have been a relatively slow process. Admittedly it might have been a lot quicker if the reactors hadn’t shut down, but it still seems a bit arse-about-tit to shut them down before knowing what is wrong, thus precipitating the very disaster you are trying to prevent.