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Report: Japan plant not ready for tsunami

TOKYO -- A new report says Japan's tsunami-ravaged nuclear plant was so unprepared for the disaster that workers had to bring protective gear and an emergency manual from distant buildings and borrow equipment from a contractor.

The report, released Saturday by Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant operator, is based on interviews of workers and plant data. It portrays chaos amid the desperate and ultimately unsuccessful battle to protect the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant from meltdown, and shows workers struggled with unfamiliar equipment and fear of radiation exposure.

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami destroyed the plant's power and crucial cooling systems, causing three reactor cores to melt and several explosions.

The company has been criticized for dragging its feet on venting and sea water cooling -- two crucial steps that experts say could have mitigated damage. Company officials have said the tsunami created obstacles that were impossible to anticipate.

An investigation by an independent panel is pending.

The report revealed insufficient preparations at the plant that the utility hadn't previously acknowledged. It said plant workers had a disaster drill just a week before the tsunami and "everyone was familiar with emergency exits," but that apparently did not help.

When the Unit 1 reactor lost cooling functions two hours after the quake, workers tried to pump in fresh water through a fire pump, but it was broken.

A fire engine couldn't reach the unit until hours later because the tsunami left a huge tank blocking the driveway. It was early morning when they finally started pumping water into the reactor -- but the core had already melted by then.

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