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1,400 Sue General Electric, Toshiba and Hitachi for Fukushima Disaster

George Washington's picture




 

We’ve previously noted that General Electric should be held partially responsible for the Fukushima reactor because General Electric knew that its reactors were unsafe:

5 of the 6 nuclear reactors at Fukushima are General Electric Mark 1 reactors.

 

GE knew decades ago that the design was faulty.

 

ABC News reported in 2011:

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.”

 

***

 

Still, concerns about the Mark 1 design have resurfaced occasionally in the years since Bridenbaugh came forward. In 1986, for instance, Harold Denton, then the director of NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, spoke critically about the design during an industry conference.

 

“I don’t have the same warm feeling about GE containment that I do about the larger dry containments,” he said, according to a report at the time that was referenced Tuesday in The Washington Post.

 

“There is a wide spectrum of ability to cope with severe accidents at GE plants,” Denton said. “And I urge you to think seriously about the ability to cope with such an event if it occurred at your plant.”

 

***

 

When asked if [the remedial measures performed on the Fukushima reactors by GE before 2011] was sufficient, he paused. “What I would say is, the Mark 1 is still a little more susceptible to an accident that would result in a loss of containment.”

The New York Times reported that other government officials warned about the dangers inherent in GE’s Mark 1 design:

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.”

This faulty design has made the Fukushima disaster much worse.

 

Specifically, the several reactors explodedscattering clumps of radioactive fuel far and wide.

 

In addition, the Mark 1 included an absolutely insane design element: storing huge quantities of radioactive fuel rods 100 feet up in the air.

 

The Christian Science Monitor noted:

A particular feature of the 40-year old General Electric Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactor model – such as the six reactors at the Fukushima site – is that each reactor has a separate spent-fuel pool. These sit near the top of each reactor and adjacent to it ….

Indeed, the fuel pools have caught fires several times, and now constitute an enormous danger. [More.]

 

***

 

Heck of a job, GE …

 

Unfortunately, there are 23 virtually-identical GE Mark 1 reactors in the U.S.

 

This is not to say that Tepco and the Japanese government are not to blame also.  They are.

 

But GE and the American government are largely responsible as well.

Greenpeace pointed out in in 2013:

Former Babcock-Hitachi engineer Mitsuhiko Tanaka said in a Greenpeace video about a flawed reactor vessel Hitachi made for Fukushima: “when the stakes are raised to such a height, a company will not choose what is safe and legal. Even if it is dangerous they will choose to save the company from destruction.”

And Toshiba built 2 of the Fukushima reactors- including reactor number 3 - which is now rubble:

Investigative reporter Greg Palast also notes that Toshiba was one of the main designers of the failed diesel generators which failed during the earthquake and tsunami ... and that the generator design was faulty.

A 1,400-person lawsuit has just been filed to hold GE – as well as 2 other companies responsible for Fukushima reactor construction, Toshiba and Hitachi – responsible.

AP reports:

About 1,400 people filed a joint lawsuit Thursday against three companies that manufactured reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant ….

 

The 1,415 plaintiffs, including 38 Fukushima residents and 357 people from outside Japan, said the manufacturers — Toshiba, GE and Hitachi — failed to make needed safety improvements to the four decade-old reactors at the Fukushima plant ….

Are they doing it for the money?

Nope:

They are seeking compensation of 100 yen ($1) each, saying their main goal is to raise awareness of the problem.

Postscript: If these companies are not held accountable, they will do it again and again.  For example, the Department of Justice announced earlier this month:

General Electric Hitachi Nuclear Energy Americas LLC (GE Hitachi) has agreed to pay $2.7 million to resolve allegations under the False Claims Act that it made false statements and claims to the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) concerning an advanced nuclear reactor design.  GE Hitachi, a provider of nuclear energy products and services headquartered in Wilmington, N.C., is a subsidiary of General Electric Company (GE) that is also partially owned by Hitachi Ltd., a multinational engineering and manufacturing firm headquartered in Tokyo, Japan.  GE is headquartered in Fairfield, Conn.

 

***

 

The government alleged that GE Hitachi concealed known flaws in its steam dryer analysis and falsely represented that it had properly analyzed the steam dryer in accordance with applicable standards and had verified the accuracy of its modeling using reliable data.

 

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Sun, 02/02/2014 - 00:16 | 4392840 SAT 800
SAT 800's picture

Excellent; I hope they bankrupt the motherfuckers. It was a completely idiotic machine. there's nothing wrong with boiling water with fission; but there certainly something wrong with a company that sells an overpriced piece of shit of a machine on the basis of a government license that they purchased fromt the captured regulators. One more example of government regulation that never works. the machine wouldn't have a chance to be built in the world of non-government private enterprise. And as for the Japanese operators; WTF was wrong with their brains? Underground diesel generators on the beach in the back of a "seawall". Where's the portable, truck mounted turbine-generator unit that they can wheel up there and patch into the power system before the batteries ran down? These units are common place, now.

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 22:30 | 4392570 TradingTroll
TradingTroll's picture

Japan gives Tepco $100 billion in aid

http://japandailypress.com/tepco-government-aid-to-be-increased-to-almos...

 

So it can make $2 billion...

Tepco posts $2bn profit

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-31/tepco-posts-return-to-profit-hi...

 

You cant make this stuff up!!

 

 

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 20:02 | 4392214 TradingTroll
TradingTroll's picture

I just read a story about how the Japanese government tested 300,000 food samples in 2013 for radiation, the US and Canada tested 0. Then, because the US radiation limit is 12x Japan's, all the highly radioactive food can be legally exported to the US and sold to unwitting consumers. Guess thats why they dont want to test in the US?

 

Was this what Hilary agreed to so Japan wouldnt sue GE?

 

It's all here:

http://www.vitapect.org/blogs/news/11877789-fukushima-radiation-where-do...

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 17:04 | 4391780 steveo77
steveo77's picture

Kind of related folks.    The US EPA Air Samples from Guam, Hawaii, California, and then throw in Saipan showed clearly that somewhere between 50 tons and 180 tons of uranium and plutonium were aerosolized, AND detected.    What also fell into the ocean rapidly?   What ALSO fell on Japan?   

Proof is here, spread the word.    We been dosed.    We deserve better.    MOX turns reactors into Radiation Cannons.    Insanity or Stupidity, take your pick, but we have to get rid of this false science, ego pumping, economic hit man bullshite that is nuclear.

Check it out, its worth a click and a few minutes to run down the rabbit hole.    This is not rocket science, it is high school math delivered by an MS in Material Science (me)

http://nukeprofessional.blogspot.com/p/uranium-aerosolized-into-atmosphe...

Mon, 02/03/2014 - 20:35 | 4398136 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

MOX isn't the only way to do nuclear: we could use LFTR liquid thorium & be done with this nonsense & have plentiful fuel.

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 16:35 | 4391734 dizzyfingers
dizzyfingers's picture

"There is also a huge corrosion problem (Arnie Gundersen has not at adressed this this question that i know of so far) that needs to be adressed on a daily basis in the opperation of reactors by the nuclear industry that police's itself.
It appears from the pictures in the link below that many reactors are rust buckets."

Salt water and salt air deteriorates things fast; crazy to build nukes in ring of fire. Or anywhere, perhaps.

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 15:07 | 4391580 screw face
screw face's picture

screw everyone then annihilate humanity ~ GE

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 14:48 | 4391549 Joebloinvestor
Joebloinvestor's picture

Someone ought to ask Jack Welch what he thinks of this legacy.

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 17:17 | 4391807 Yenbot
Yenbot's picture

One sigma, maybe negative 6 sigma...

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 11:57 | 4391245 UrbanBard
UrbanBard's picture

The wrong people are being sued.

The GE Reactors did their job, They shut down after a larger earthquake than the reactors were designed to handle. If there had been no Tsunami, then there would have been no flooding. Another reactor closer to epicenter survived without problems because it was built on a 90 foot cliff.

TEPco decided on a bad location down by the shore with an inadequate sea wall. They created a bad design where the emergency generators were placed in a basement prone to flooding. If cooling water had been constantly applied, there would have been no meltdown. TEPco refused to install a safer design when this plant was amortized.

The reason TEPco did none of these things right was that it was a regulated monopoly which was protected from market forces by government edict. An insurance company would have forced them to replace this 40 year old design, decades ago.

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 18:33 | 4391983 Nassim
Nassim's picture

The reactors were destroyed by the earthquake - long before the tsunami arrived. Ground displacement in the earthquake was around 3 feet - and that cut all the ducting and pipes. Reactors have hundreds of miles of piping and wires.

Exactly the same can happen in the USA - no need for tsunami.

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 12:22 | 4391279 shovelhead
shovelhead's picture

What problem?

People pay for the electricity generated. With subsidies, profits are made.

No problem.

You guys talk as if locating nuke power stations on/near seismic faultlines may intail more risk than is acceptable.

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 11:19 | 4391188 hangemhigh77
hangemhigh77's picture

GE bringing disease and pestilence to the world.  Yeah, they bring good things to life, like radiation poisoning and death. But hey I'm sure whoever designed those reactors got a big Christmas bonus for cutting corners and saving a few mil.  Money, that's what's really important.  Who cares if millions of people die horribly painful deaths, the execs at GE live in Schenectady, they can't see it from their houses.

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 11:00 | 4391159 Dodgy Geezer
Dodgy Geezer's picture

The problem for any nuclear power station operator is that ANY alterations that are proposed will be:

 

1 - scrutinised by regulators to the nth degree, resulting in lots of work and uncertainty

2 - objected to and protested by anti-nuclear groups

 

This last is directly responsible for the current crop of 50-year old power stations with known safety issues. In any other industry these issues would have been remedied years ago. But doing anything with a nuclear power station is so controversial that it becomes almost impossible to change an existing 1960s design...

Mon, 02/03/2014 - 20:37 | 4398142 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Given what's now public about liquid thorium reactors we can confidently say solid-rod fuel reactors never should have been built. Not one ever.
Their purpose now is to ensure nuclear warhead materials are available.

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 11:28 | 4391199 hangemhigh77
hangemhigh77's picture

You refer to "anti-nuclear" groups as though THEY are the problem.  HELLO.  The PROBLEM is the nuclear "industry" is so corrupt to the point that they will jeapardise the very existence of LIFE on the PLANET for money.  If you're not ANTI nuke you're friggin CRAZY or profiting from it.  They shut down coal fire plants because they're bad for our health?  REALLY?  Yet we have nuclear plants everywhere?  Sounds to me like the fish stinks from the head down.  FOLLOW THE MONEY.

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 11:23 | 4391191 hangemhigh77
hangemhigh77's picture

your first comment about these plants being "scrutinized by regulators" is FRIGGIN LAUGHABLE!!!!!!!   The only thing "scrutinized" is the amount of bribe money these "regulators" get.  They would let GE build a nuclear reactor out of cardboard if the bribe was big enough.

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 12:04 | 4391258 are we there yet
are we there yet's picture

That would be nuclear grade cardboard. Government Priced to assure the best quality.

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 08:26 | 4390994 lawton2
lawton2's picture

I think in the upcoming Godzilla movie this year they are going to use George Washington's Fukishima scenario.

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 08:38 | 4391006 TNTARG
TNTARG's picture

I believe in a short while no movies are gonna be made in the West Coast Studios...

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 07:39 | 4390967 Walt D.
Walt D.'s picture

Now that the US has become socialist/fascist, the insurance problem becomes moot. In the event of a major disaster, Uncle Ben or actually Auntie Janet would simply print the money. Under Keynesian economic principles, Nobel Prize winner Comrade Paul would declare that this would be an enormous stimulus to the economy.

Even if the US insurance indusrty wer involved, the premiums would be very low, using a probability of disaster, severity of disaster model, since ther have not been any disasters in 50 years. However, this overlooks the fact that nearly all nuclear power plants are over 40 years old and use obsolete technology. However, in the event of a major disaster TBTF would be invoked and we would get another AIG type bailout.

Mon, 02/03/2014 - 20:37 | 4398143 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

We're saved! We can always PRINT moar plutonium-scrubbers for the water supplies!

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 02:40 | 4390781 are we there yet
are we there yet's picture

if something hasen't broken don't fix it does not apply to nuclear power plants. The problem is that that much money corrupts any review or standards agency. So how is an honest review process to exist.

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 00:26 | 4390579 PennilessPauper
PennilessPauper's picture

I just bought a new clothes washer and I made Damn sure the new model was not GE.  Fuck you General Electric!!  I hope I can join in on this lawsuit.

 

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 00:24 | 4390575 LMAOLORI
LMAOLORI's picture

 

 

Oh Sh*# GE Capital is too big to Fail so I suppose we will end up paying for this if the suit is successful?

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 00:17 | 4390567 mrmister
mrmister's picture

I hope they win $1,800,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 those dudes is criminals.

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 00:16 | 4390563 TrustbutVerify
TrustbutVerify's picture

Wasn't it all approved by the government?  

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 00:15 | 4390561 UncleFurker
UncleFurker's picture

 

If nuclear plants were required to be fully insured against public liability, they wouldn't exist.

 

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 17:59 | 4391904 SmittyinLA
SmittyinLA's picture

Pretty much all insurance policies EXCLUDE nuclear contamination.

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 00:06 | 4390546 q99x2
q99x2's picture

I'm a jogger on the West Coast of the US can I join the lawsuit.

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 10:53 | 4391153 negative rates
negative rates's picture

No, but you can join the list of defective GE reactors which by law are the local operators problem should a quake or tsuamni come to your town.

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 09:49 | 4391056 TPTB_r_TBTF
TPTB_r_TBTF's picture

you wonT live long enough to collect.

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 00:01 | 4390538 TheGoldMyth
TheGoldMyth's picture

There is also a huge corrosion problem (Arnie Gundersen has not at adressed this this question that i know of so far) that needs to be adressed on a daily basis in the opperation of reactors by the nuclear industry that police's itself.
It appears from the pictures in the link below that many reactors are rust buckets.

http://allthingsnuclear.org/2013/02/

Fri, 01/31/2014 - 23:54 | 4390525 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

I think the biggest problem is with the two new reactors that got built and did not have the problem when the tsunami hit.

In other words "if the tsunami problem was understood and that was why the two new reactors were sited the way they were...why were the other four reactors still being used?"

To me this is clearly a Tepco problem.
They knew the problem and just kept the ones that were a problem running in addition to the ones that they knew were safer.

That strikes me as a tough one to explain.

Mon, 02/03/2014 - 20:38 | 4398149 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

It strikes me as normal operations for all nuclear reactors world-wide.

Fri, 01/31/2014 - 23:12 | 4390452 malek
malek's picture

Oh, so which of those companies again planned the tsunami seawall too low - and which bureaucrats signed off on that?

Fri, 01/31/2014 - 23:44 | 4390512 Angus McHugepenis
Angus McHugepenis's picture

George: Love your articles but seriously, suing the culprit in THEIR deck-stacked arena is useless and only feeds the entire beast system.

I don't know what the remedy is but I'm guessing the little people (us) will get fucked by Fuku both from radiation and lack of interest from TPTB because the little people have forgotten their roles beyond couch surfing.

A wise man once said, "Never go to court. You are entering their arena and you wil lose".

If you don't believe in their system, why on earth would anyone feel obligated to go to their courts? And why would anyone attempt suing them in their arena? Fucking wasted time man!

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 12:03 | 4391256 shovelhead
shovelhead's picture

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that wise man wasn't a lawyer.

Sun, 02/02/2014 - 22:27 | 4394668 Angus McHugepenis
Angus McHugepenis's picture

I'm going out on a limb here to tell you that if you need a lawyer, you're fucked. Your lawyer plays by the rules of THEIR arena. Sorry if you don't get it. Enjoy your sheepdom.

Fri, 01/31/2014 - 23:39 | 4390498 mjcOH1
mjcOH1's picture

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Safety-and-Security/Safety-of-Plants/L...

"Exclusive liability of the operator means that in the case of an accident, all claims are to be brought against the nuclear operator. This legal channeling is regardless of the accident's cause. By inference suppliers or builders of the plant are protected from public litigation in the case of an accident. Again this simplifies the process because claimants do not have to figure out who is responsible – under law it will be the nuclear operator."

GE, Toshiba, and Hitachi legally have no liability. The plant operator has sole legal liability...and the liability is legally capped. The Japanese government may choose to assume costs exceeding that cap.

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 01:23 | 4390678 Angus McHugepenis
Angus McHugepenis's picture

Great! Tell me where I can go to pick up my check. Otherwise you're speaking legalise bafflegab that does nothing.

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 00:08 | 4390553 Bunga Bunga
Bunga Bunga's picture

Because the government wanted the nuclear infrastructure (dual use), they simply capped liabilities. Otherwise no commercial operator would run an NPP or other "civil" nuclear facilities..

Japan posesses 300 kg weapon grade plutonium, enough to make 50 nuclear bombs.

http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/us-presses-japan-to-h...

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 05:58 | 4390901 SoundMoney45
SoundMoney45's picture

If the operators of nuclear plants had to purchase commercial accidnet insurance, these plants would be much safer.  The business model calls for any accident costs to be socialized (ie future taxes), while profits are privatized. 

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 20:31 | 4392294 KickIce
KickIce's picture

Kinda like banks and their toxic waste.. er assets.

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