[LINK] Is it just me, or is this daft?

Adrian Chadd adrian at creative.net.au
Thu Mar 17 22:07:14 AEDT 2011

That sounds like a post from the RISKS digest archive.



On Thu, Mar 17, 2011, Roger Clarke wrote:
> Pardon me if this has already been discussed and I missed it.
> There's an important design principle that's all too frequently overlooked.
> The principle seems to have been overlooked in the case of the 
> Japanese nuclear power plant, and that seems to have at least 
> exacerbated the problem, possibly in two separate ways.
> Maybe the logic went like this:
> We're a power plant, right?  Power is what we produce.
> We won't be short of power here.  So we can design our monitoring 
> systems, and our control systems, and our fallback systems, on the 
> assumption that we have power.
> And it doesn't matter if those systems are power-hungry, because, 
> well, we're a power plant.
> And hence:
> -   the towers can be tall
> -   we can put the entry-points for the coolant high up the towers
> -   we can store the spent rods up on top of that
> And then maybe what happened was:
> -   2 of the 6 reactors were closed down at the time.
>      Nothing unusual about that.
> -   a 9.0 earthquake happened close by.
>      Not a big problem.  We designed for that, and it worked okay.
>      We may be down briefly, but we have systems and procedures.
> -   a several-metre tsunami ran through the power plant.
>      A bit more of a problem that, but nothing too grave.
>      We may be down for a while but we have systems and procedures.
> -   the tsunami also ran through the local area.
>      So?
>      Oh, *those* power poles?!
>      But we're a power plant, so we'll be okay.
>      Oh, you mean we can't generate power while we're running the
>      systems and procedures that we need to in order to recover from
>      the effects of the earthquake and the tsunami?
>      Ah, but we have diesel generators, so we'll be okay.
>      Oh, you mean they only generate enough to keep the lights on,
>      the door-controls operational, and the control-boards working.
>      Well, bring in some more generators.
>      Oh, so the power needed to push water up the towers in the volume
>      that we need to cool the rods is more than diesel generators can
>      deliver?
>      Ah, so.
> -- 
> Roger Clarke                                 http://www.rogerclarke.com/
> Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
>                     Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
> mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/
> Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW
> Visiting Professor in Computer Science    Australian National University
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