Five of the six nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power station are boiling water type GE Mark 1. Now we have the revelation that three G.E. scientists who were working on the design of the Mark 1 Reactor quit their jobs over GE's failure to correct the design flaws that have become so disastrously evident at the Fukushima Daiichi power station.
Fukushima: Mark 1 Nuclear Reactor Design Caused GE Scientist To Quit In Protest
Thirty-five years ago, Dale G. Bridenbaugh and two of his colleagues at General Electric resigned from their jobs after becoming increasingly convinced that the nuclear reactor design they were reviewing -- the Mark 1 -- was so flawed it could lead to a devastating accident.
Questions persisted for decades about the ability of the Mark 1 to handle the immense pressures that would result if the reactor lost cooling power, and today that design is being put to the ultimate test in Japan. Five of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which has been wracked since Friday's earthquake with explosions and radiation leaks, are Mark 1s.
"The problems we identified in 1975 were that, in doing the design of the containment, they did not take into account the dynamic loads that could be experienced with a loss of coolant," Bridenbaugh told ABC News in an interview. "The impact loads the containment would receive by this very rapid release of energy could tear the containment apart and create an uncontrolled release."
I should note that ABC ran this story and not GE owned NBC.
In the 1970s and 1980s GE marketed their Mark 1 reactor to utilities across the U.S. and to countries around the world.
23 US reactors share design with failed Japan nukes
There are 23 nuclear power plants operating in the U.S. using the same General Electric Mark 1 reactors as the Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 that suffered a hydrogen explosion on Saturday and then again early Monday, according to a fact sheet just released by the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, a Maryland-based nuclear power watchdog group.
This design, a General Electric Mark I, has been criticized by nuclear experts and even Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff for decades as being susceptible to explosion and containment failure.
And where are these 23 reactors?
FACTBOX-U.S. nuclear plants similar to Japan plant in peril
GE has rolled out several versions of the Mark 1, and some
of the U.S. reactors could be slightly different than the
Daiichi Unit 1 reactor.
Reactor Location Size (MW) Year
Browns Ferry 1 Decatur, AL 1065 1974
Browns Ferry 2 Decatur, AL 1104 1975
Browns Ferry 3 Decatur, AL 1105 1977
Brunswick 1 Southport, NC 938 1976
Brunswick 2 Southport, NC 920 1975
Cooper Nebraska City, NE 770 1974
Dresden 2 Morris, IL 867 1970
Dresden 3 Morris, IL 867 1971
Duane Arnold Cedar Rapids, IA 580 1975
Hatch 1 Baxley, GA 876 1975
Hatch 2 Baxley, GA 883 1979
Fermi 2 Monroe, MI 1122 1988
Hope Creek Hancock's Brdg, NJ 1161 1986
Fitzpatrick Oswego, NY 854 1976
Monticello Monticello, MN 572 1971
Nine Mile Point 1 Oswego, NY 621 1969
Oyster Creek Toms River, NJ 615 1969
Peach Bottom 2 Lancaster, PA 1112 1974
Peach Bottom 3 Lancaster, PA 1112 1974
Pilgrim Plymouth, MA 685 1972
Quad Cities 1 Moline, IL 867 1972
Quad Cities 2 Moline, IL 867 1972
Vermont Yankee Vernon, VT 620 1972
Fortunately none of these Mark 1 Reactors is located in America's most seismically active areas along the edge of the Pacific Plate. A part of the Ring of Fire that just shattered parts of Japan.
This come from a New York Times article published today that was pointed out in one of the comments:
Experts Had Long Criticized Potential Weakness in Design of Stricken Reactor
In 1972, Stephen H. Hanauer, then a safety official with the Atomic Energy Commission, recommended that the Mark 1 system be discontinued because it presented unacceptable safety risks. Among the concerns cited was the smaller containment design, which was more susceptible to explosion and rupture from a buildup in hydrogen — a situation that may have unfolded at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Later that same year, Joseph Hendrie, who would later become chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a successor agency to the atomic commission, said the idea of a ban on such systems was attractive. But the technology had been so widely accepted by the industry and regulatory officials, he said, that “reversal of this hallowed policy, particularly at this time, could well be the end of nuclear power.”
In an e-mail on Tuesday, David Lochbaum, director of the Nuclear Safety Program at the Union for Concerned Scientists, said those words seemed ironic now, given the potential global ripples from the Japanese accident.
The Telegraph reports on a wilileaks cable that may prove embarrassing to the Japanese Government and Prime Minister Kan.
Japan earthquake: Japan warned over nuclear plants, WikiLeaks cables show
An official from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in December 2008 that safety rules were out of date and strong earthquakes would pose a "serious problem" for nuclear power stations.
The Japanese government pledged to upgrade safety at all of its nuclear plants, but will now face inevitable questions over whether it did enough.
Dale Bridenbaugh's and his colleagues who quit in 1976 and their revelations about well founded doubt about the Mark 1's design just now emerging, makes me recall another scientist whistle blower from the Space Schuttle Challenger disaster, Roger Boisjoly who worked for NASA contractor Morton Thiokol. All of them were bitterly disappointed when their employers' corporate imperative for cost cutting trumped sound science and prudent engineering. In both cases with disastrous results.