The Fukushima plants–the weakpoints

Suffolk County, NY, the wealthiest county in the US, had the cash, the legal team, the experts and the power of the privileged to question what was going on (at Shoreham, Long Island).  Power companies aren’t used to being questioned.  When we forced the plant builder to test the three Emergency Diesel Generators in emergency conditions, one failed almost immediately (the crankshaft snapped, as R.D. predicted), then the second, then the third.  We named the three diesels “Snap, Crackle and Pop.”…My suspicions then took me to a darker hypothesis.  In my gut I believed that the diesels were never expected to work, can’t work.  Not anywhere:  not in Japan, no in the US, not in Russia, nowhere.  That means every nuclear plant built or about to be built doesn’t stand a chance in a power outage emergency….

  the issue was the water on the diesels.  “Jonathan Sellars”–alias–in California told me, “It was obvious to the entire crew of skilled millwright-mechanics and engineers that the one very large vulnerability that the system (at Fukushima) had was a flood.”  He issued the warning in 1985.  Fukushima was built in the 1970s so a retrofit would have cost a mint.  The warning was ignored….it’s the same story almost everywhere, from Fukushima to Florida.  Diesels open to water remain standard industry practice worldwide (except Germany).  The engineers shrug and say, “Those are the specs.”  Meltdowns and cancer?  That’s handled by the office down the hall….
  On a ship, an expert engineer explained, you would take half an hour to warm up the bearings (in the diesels) and then slowly build up to critical crankshaft speed, and only then add the load, the propeller.  That’s for sailing.  But in a nuclear emergency “the diesels have to go from stationary to taking a full load in less than ten seconds.”  Worse, to avoid having to buy additional diesels, the nuclear operators turbo-charge them, revving them to 4,000 horsepower in ten seconds when they are designed for half that output.  The result:  snap, crackle, pop.  I learned that at Fukushima at least two of the diesels failed before the tsunami hit.  what destroyed those diesels was turning them on.  Just testing them can damage them.  There are alternatives to snap, crackle, pop diesels, but they can cost a billion dollars per station.  And the operators have decided you’re just not worth it. Sometimes the diesels work, sometimes they don’t….Failure is in the design, the design of the political system, the corporate system.     -G. Palast:  Vultures’ Picnic, Dutton, NY, 2011, pp. 294-7

I have investigated dozens of nuclear operators, and in every single case, no exceptions, I found this: Fraud is as much a part of the structure of a nuclear plant as the cement and steel. -ibid., p. 301

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