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article imageHow a rat may have taken down Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant

By Duane Buell     Mar 21, 2013 in Technology
Fukushima - It is estimated that in the United States there is one rat for every human. Rats have spread diseases such as Bubonic Plague and Typhus just to name a few. But is it really possible that a rat can take down a modern nuclear power plant?
According to most rodents experts, that answer would be yes. Rats have caused building fires and major damage because of their tendency to chew on live wires! A rat was found inside the control panels at Fukushima, the same control panels that control the cooling system for the Nuclear Reactor. Rats can cause damage to buildings ranging into the millions of dollars in the US alone. Worldwide damage done by rats could cause catastrophic failures in infrastructure, interruptions in our food supply and yes, even a catastrophic failure at a Nuclear Power plant. In the State Of Nebraska, the Dept. of Public Health estimates rodent damage to the pork producing industry has cost upwards of $6 million dollars annually.
It's not just our Nuclear facilities that can become dangerous because of rats and rodents. The costs annually run into Billions of dollars worldwide and could threaten our food supplies, infrastructure and even our power grid! Older sections of cities and towns across the nations of the world are the most at risk, but that doesn't mean that rodents won't infest newer and more recently constructed areas if given the chance.
Indiana State Department of Health is so concerned about rodent infestations the state has devoted an entire webpage to educate residents to the problem. Rodents can enter buildings in numerous ways including drains and sewers where they flourish. The Center for disease Control and prevention is now involved in different states around the USA dealing with transmittable diseases related to rodent infestations.
In Indiana, the State Department of Health is so concerned about rats and mice they have devoted an entire webpage with links to educate the public about the risks of not ridding your home or commercial buildings of rats and mice. Part of the problem is that people are terrified of rat infestations, but curiously don't see mouse infestations with the same abhorrence.
The diseases alone are not the only problem. the structural damage done to buildings by rats can actually cause older dwellings to collapse because the support beams and timbers in the walls have been gnawed through! In Herefordshire England Rats have become such a problem in older parts of town because of their age that fires have broken out requiring the district council to put up public service web pages to rat and mouse control. It was said that a fire that destroyed a historic tavern and neighborhood pub built in 1392 was caused by rats who chewed their way through an iron pipe supplying Liquid Propane Gas to the taverns kitchen.
Rats are known to be particularly attracted to live electrical wires and it is estimated that as many as 15,000 homes in the US burn down each year due to electrical fires caused by rodent infestations. The electrical wiring in your home and workplace is similar to those found in Nuclear Power plants even though the operation in Nuclear power plants is obviously more critical to the safety and security to the facility. Fortunately, the Fukushima plant had plenty of water in the cooling ponds for about 4 days and the problem was discovered early, but what if there is a next time?
If there is one rat to every human being in the US, then we are infested with close to 300 million of them. Rodents want the same things we do, food, shelter and water and like it or not we are going to provide them with all three unintentionally. This would include the necessary infrastructure surrounding Nuclear Power plants as well. The only way to safeguard these facilities is for absolute cleanliness, not a bad idea for all of us as well. Chernobyl was a great demonstration of just how bad things can get when it all goes wrong.
I personally don't have a rat problem. I'm lucky and I like to think it's because I've been adopted by three wonderful hunters who share my domicile. They are my cats and although they were very ferule animals when they came into my life, I still sleep easier at night knowing they are constantly on guard. Should I decide to launch my own Nuclear Power plant, I know I'd tend to sleep easier knowing my loved pets will help me keep it clean and rodent free.
More about Japan, fukushima nuclear plant, Nuclear power, Damages, Rodents
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