Rat suspected in Japan's nuclear plant power outage

This week's power outage at Japan's tsunami-crippled nuclear plant may have been caused by a rat.

Dead rat found near a switchboard, investigation continuing

The carcass of a rat was found inside a temporary electric switchboard at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in northeastern Japan Wednesday. The rodent may be linked to this week's power failure at the plant. (Tokyo Electric Power Co./Associated Press)

This week's power outage at Japan's tsunami-crippled nuclear plant may have been caused by a rat.

Masayuki Ono, spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co., the utility that runs the Fukushima Daiichi plant, says a 15-centimetre dead rat was found Wednesday near a switchboard. He says the rat may be linked to the power failure, but that more investigation is needed to be sure.

Cooling systems at the plant for four storage pools for nuclear fuel were knocked out Monday. Power was restored early Wednesday at all nine affected facilities.

The power outage was a reminder that the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chornobyl is far from resolved. Tsunami-damaged backup generators set off the March 2011 disaster. Decommissioning the Fukushima reactors is expected to take decades.