Greg Palast is a well known journalist who has written about government nuclear plant fraud and racketeering investigations.
Just months ago the Obama administration asked congress to provide a 4 billion loan guarantee for two new nuclear reactors to be built on the Gulf Coast of Texas. The reactors will be built and operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) with local partners.
Palast notes that the failure of the emergency systems at the Japanese plant came as no surprise to those who worked in the field according to Palast. Palast discusses this in some detail as I will note later.
Palast notes that all nuclear plants must meet SQ or Seismic Qualification which means that the plants must be able to resist the "maximum conceivable shaking event". This must be an exaggeration on Palast's part. He must mean a maximum likely given the location etc. of reactor.
Palast goes on: ""The most inexpensive way to meet your SQ is to lie. The industry does it all the time. The government team I worked with caught them once, in 1988, at the Shoreham plant in New York. Correcting the SQ problem at Shoreham would have cost a cool billion, so engineers were told to change the tests from 'failed' to 'passed.' ""
Palast goes on:""The company that put in the false safety report? Stone & Webster, now the nuclear unit of Shaw Construction which will work with Tokyo Electric to build the Texas plant, Lord help us.""
Palast notes that CNN follows the official line that the tsunami disabled the pumps needed to cool the reactors which implies that water got into the generators that were to run the pumps. These EDGs or Emergency Diesel Generators are key to defusing an emergency situation. Whoever designed the system did not design it such that the diesel generators were certain to be operable in an earthquake or tsunami. Toshiba designed the system at Fukushima station number one according to Palast.
The U.S. project is called the South Texas Project. The project is sold as being a patriotic way to make power domestically. The reactor will come from Westinghouse a long recognised U.S. brand name. However Westinghouse is actuallly now Toshiba! The reactor will be mostly made in Japan according to Palast.
Palast notes that emergency diesel systems often fail even in perfectly good conditions. Palast notes:""Back in the day, when we checked the emergency back-up diesels in America, a mind-blowing number flunked. At the New York nuke, for example, the builders swore under oath that their three diesel engines were ready for an emergency. They'd been tested. The tests were faked, the diesels run for just a short time at low speed. When the diesels were put through a real test under emergency-like conditions, the crankshaft on the first one snapped in about an hour, then the second and third. We nicknamed the diesels, "Snap, Crackle and Pop."""""
Palast notes that it is exceedingly difficult to be a whistle blower in Japan. However he notes also of cases he investigated in the U.S where whisteblowing engineers were blacklisted by the industry. See much more at this site among others. Palast actually said that he was even more concerned with some of the US partners of Toshiba than with the Japanese.
If everything that Palast says is correct it should send up red flags. Even aside from all of this I have never thought that nuclear power made sense economically, safety wise, or environmentally. THe radioactive waste must be safely stored for virtually centuries.
Just one further note. The Fukushima plants are forty or so years old. Their normal life span was to be 25 years. So these plants were kept operating a decade and a half at least over their expected period of use. No doubt the emergency systems were outdated and never upgraded properly I would expect.
I have added a video from August of 2009 of a town hall in San Antonio where the whole project was criticised to no avail obviously.