Following up to the article I wrote yesterday, let’s take a look at the design that the General Electric Company (G.E.) supplied Northeastern Japan with for the six nuclear reactors nearly four decades ago that is the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. Now please do not mistake my use of the word design with the world build. They are two different things. Design pertains to the preplanning, modeling, what they would base actual physical construction of the plant off of. We build based off of design that is why there are architects and construction workers. Now think of G.E. as the architect who drew up the blueprints for the six nuclear reactors.
Critics have speculated that the Mark 1 System was the smaller and less expensive choice at the time of Fukushima Daiichi’s construction however G.E. stands by its technology claiming there are 32 other boiling water reactors (BWR) Mark 1 systems are operating around the world without a breach of their containment system. Than what happened in Fukushima?
Going back to one of my earlier articles, Chernobyl and Fukushima Share the Same Rating explain how the structure at Fukushima was simply not ready for both an earthquake and a tsunami. Than in my follow up article, Fukushima’s Mark 1 System Designed by G.E I decided to take a look into the interior workings of Fukushima’s failed emergency cooling system and discovered that the G.E. an American company had hands in the nuclear reactors design process.
Throughout my research the one thing that I have found to be most ironic is how both TEPCO and G.E. are said to have ignored warning signs from their safety officials and researchers that could have ultimately prevented this disaster. G.E. may not have been responsible for where the Japanese put the reactors, however once G.E. saw that Fukushima was built right on the shoreline, moreover in a quake zone shouldn’t they have said something about elevating the power source needed to run the emergency cooling system in case the control rods were activated due to an earthquake?
TEPCO, TEPCO, TEPCO… The history for the company is not looking very good as far as safety measures go. How can TEPCO honestly stand up and point fingers when in 2007 warning flags had flown sky high when researchers for Tokyo Electric informed them that Fukushima Daiichi may not be able to withstand the force of a tsunami. The reason for a Senior Safety Engineer is for them to inspect and report on the safety. What does the Senior Safety Engineer do however when he is ignored not only by the company he works for, but the regulators of Japan itself? It was made clear that TEPCO did nothing to heed the safety advice given to them during a presentation at a nuclear engineering conference in Miami during July of 2007. Japanese nuclear regulators on the meantime clung to the model that would leave all the crucial safety decisions in the hands of the utility that ran the plant.
The deeper one looks into Fukushima we can see that there is far more than the media is choosing to say. It feels as though no one is stepping up to bat for this disaster when in reality there are many factors that played into this tragedy. G.E. could have said that if the power went out there would be no way to cool the systems, TEPCO could have acknowledged that a tsunami of a certain size would have been a danger to Fukushima, and last but not least the regulators should have stepped in and made sure that everyone was doing their job the right way. I know that many would say “If it ain’t broke than don’t fix it,” but honestly the warning signs have been there time and again, all someone had to do was pay attention and trust that the safety officials were just as important as the executives calling the shots.