Newswise — On 11 March an earthquake shook the ground beneath the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station, bringing down power lines and cutting off the plant from Japan's electricity grid. Then, 41 minutes later, a massive tsunami swamped the nuclear plant, knocking out emergency power systems and plunging Fukushima Dai-ichi into a dreaded state known to experts as "full station blackout."
In the first frantic 24 hours after the tsunami struck, the power station's employees struggled to stabilize the overheating reactors. In darkened control rooms, with radiation levels rising and few instruments functioning, these workers tried to prevent catastrophe. But ultimately, they failed. Now, IEEE Spectrum delivers the definitive account of the first day of the accident, explaining each fault and failure that led to the explosions, meltdowns, and the worst release of radiation since Chernobyl.