The earthquake that struck Japan in March of 2011 resulted in a loss of electricity to the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. This led to the shutdown of the plant’s six reactors, which prevent the radioactive material from overheating and causing a meltdown. The plant’s backup generators turned on in order to sustain electricity to the plant and ensure that the reactors maintained this essential function.
A mere 40 minutes later, the ensuing and devastating tsunami knocked out the plant’s backup generators, leading the reactors to turn off for good. The cessation of the cooling from the reactors led to the devastating meltdown at the Fukushima power plant.
catch22’s answer is perfectly correct, paige48. But let’s focus on your word “exactly”.
Train accidents are very carefully scrutinized, too. But there are a lot more of them. Here’s an interesting example that might give you some thought to consider what “exactly” is a “cause”.
In England, many years ago, in the days of steam there was a terrible, shocking railway accident. A fast moving train hit another in a station, which in turn caused a third train to smash. It was one of the worst rail accidents ever, and people wondered how it possibly could have happened.
The answer is very, very interesting.
The train driver “caused” it. He was an experienced engineer, did not see a signal, and roared into a station at full speed. So you might imagine it was all his fault.
Except. Signals can be exceptionally difficult to see at full speed in a steam locomotive, because the driver is behind a massive, long boiler. This particular signal, if the engineer wasn’t looking exactly where it was, in the few seconds it was visible, he wouldn’t see it.
He didn’t see it. But why not? He knew the railway. The problem was his judgement was off. His sense of timing. Was that his fault, or the fault of the railroad for making him run the train so fast when he was fatigued?
But it gets a little more poingnant. The engineer was tired, because he had been looking for a doctor for his daughter. He couldn’t find one who was awake or was willing to come, and he spent the whole night looking. (His daughter died soon after the railroad crash.) The engineer, according to the way things worked in England at the time, should have been able to find a doctor. But the social status of an engineer in England is low, and that contributed to the problem.
By the time the engineer got to work he was dog tired. The railroad did not provide time off for family problems — he had to go to work or risk losing his job. So he got on that engine, missed seeing the difficult signal, and dozens of people died shortly after.
So. What “exactly” was the cause? Was it bad placement of the signal? Poor company policy about family time-off? The engineer? Or was it the British class system that denied him reasonable access to a doctor in an emergency situation?
The official report asked all these questions. And you may well ask them, too.
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