Tokyo Electric Power on Monday (March 25th) blamed a rat for a 29-hour halt in power used to help cool spent nuclear fuel rods at its Fukushima plant last week, saying the rodent had triggered a circuit breaker after touching exposed wires.

The scorched body of a small rodent was found last week near a temporary switchboard used to supply power to cooling systems at three fuel pools in the facility.

Investigators confirmed the 29-hour power cut began after the rodent touched exposed wires and triggered a circuit breaker.

"We have found that there were scorch marks from an electric shock on the rat's stomach. Going on that evidence, we believe this small rodent, this rat, was the origin of the short circuit that initially caused power to fail," Tepco spokesman, Masayuki Ono said.

Tepco resumed operations by midnight on March 19th after the electricity went off a day earlier.

There was no threat of overheating or radiation releases after the outage, officials said.

The utility now faces a raft of hurdles as it works to decommission the Fukushima Daiichi complex in an unprecedented clean-up effort expected to take decades.

Earlier this month, a Tepco official said the company was struggling to stop groundwater flooding into damaged reactors and it may take four years to fix the problem.

Presented by Adam Justice