Tuesday, March 15, 2011

React Now: Review ALL GE Mark I's and Mark II's

Japan's triple tragedy suggests important
warnings for the United States and any other
nation with GE Mark I nuclear reactors online.
Japan's failing reactors in Fukushima Prefecture
are mostly Mark I's.

The GE Mark I has long been known as relatively
poor engineering. In 1986, Harold Denton, formerly of
the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), said the
GE Mark I's small reactor vessel and suppression pool
problems make this a poor design. Dr. Michio Kaku,a
theoretical physicist, author and science popularizer,
had other reservations about the Mark I's even
earlier in that decade.

Here in Illinois four of our eleven nuclear reactors
online are Mark I's; ours went online only a few
years before Japan's, in the mid 1970s. Even though
our earthquake faultline is less frequently, dramatically
active than those in Japan, still, we DO have one, the
New Madrid Fault, running under Missouri and Illinois.

200 years ago the New Madrid really kicked up, heaving
great devastation throughout the Midwest....when is the
next big one? Disturbingly, no seismologist can predict the
timing of any such large scale event, or smaller quakes
either; Chicagoland felt two tiny ones in recent months.

What's to be done? Here are some suggestions for now:

(1) Review ALL 23 GE Mark I's in the U.S., SOON.
While they're at it, throw in inspections of Mark II's
as well. Around the world, inspect them all.

(2) Send GE's nuclear reactor engineers to Japan immediately.
These designs were not great technology on a good day; now,
after a BAD day, GE should stand behind its products AND its customers.

It's the right thing to do. But to avoid future shock, please:

(3) Establish a U.S. federal moratorium on new nuclear plant
projects, effective immediately. Then, when theorizing potential
worst-case scenarios, be constructively more "negative"; experts
here and abroad "didn't expect quakes this severe, beyond 8.0",
etc. Why not?? Why not a TWELVE, someday? It IS possible if not

Reacting sensibly now could avoid a world of pain later.


  1. who wrote this crap a 5 year old?

  2. "Anonymous" is exercising his/her First Amendment constitutional privileges, however inelegantly put. I DON'T, however, find any
    technical/factual point-by-point refutation
    accompanying the insults.
    (1) There's nothing
    wrong with being five years old; most five year-olds act nicer than this.
    (2) My writing is not crap, never has been. Since I WAS five, every teacher I've had, up to and including college junior year, has praised it. Best selling authors and one Chicago Tribune editorial writer have as well.

    I'm a 66 year-old former law book publishers' (two companies) proofreader. I have a personal library of about 400 books, mostly
    non-fiction, science (physics, chemistry, biology and engineering), law and history
    texts. My I.Q. has been clocked at 140, average being about 100.

    So, A. Nony Mous, what've YOU got??

  3. Touche, Ladeira. I thought the great New Madrid quake did little damage due to the mostly rural area and the lack of development at that time. Probably "relatively" little damage. I need to read up on that. By the way, I was thinking about the serpentine mounds in the Midwest and was wondering if that might have been an effort to depict the path of a tornado. Some sort of homage to the tornadic forces or gods. I hope you are well and I know you write well. Hee Hee! How's that for a five year old?

  4. Oh, Cletis, were you "anonymous"? If so, you were having fun; I shouldn't be so

    The other day I responded to you on this blog using anonymous, not playing games, just feeling lazy and too tired to sign in.

    Speaking of being well, I hope you and yours are. Best Regards, A.

  5. It all comes down to engineering and cost. GE has chosen to maximize profits over safety much like BP in the Gulf of Mexico disaster and Toyota with their accelerator problems.

    The tragedy here is that GE was fully aware of the problems and the near total certainty of a disaster in the event of cooling system failure. So much so that three of their engineers quit in protest of what is now known, without a shadow of a doubt, is a deeply flawed design.

    I have absolutely no trust in GE to provide any assistance in controlling, much less repairing the damage to these reactors.

    All GE designed reactors should be taken off line and put under immediate review. Mark 1 reactors should be decomissioned immediately and taken out of service all together. Perhaps the same should also be done with the Mark 2 reactors also.

    GE should face fines and criminal action, but due to Japanese law, they will likely emerge unscathed. The scope of this disaster, however, is likely to much greater than BP's Gulf of Mexico oil spill. It will certainly be greater than what happened with Union Carbide's Bhopal, India accident. An accident that for all practical purposes ended Union Carbide's existence as a company.

    However, I as a consumer will hold GE accountable. I will never fly on any airplane with GE engines. I will also never again purchase another GE product. Much like I won't purchase any BP products like their Castrol line of oil.

    The need for nuclear power is too great to completely abandon the technology. France generates 75 to 80% of their electricity from nuclear sources. They feel that they have few other viable options and have taken it upon themelves to use the technology responsibly. Unlike GE, they have not chosen to maximize profits and convenience at the expense of safety. It isn't just a matter of building the plants away from fault lines either. There were other Japanese nuclear plants even closer to the quake's epicenter that did not catastrophically fail.

    I am not advocating for the abandonment of nuclear energy. In the context of global warming, it is a safer technology in the context of the planet than fossil fuels, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima Daiichi notwithstanding. It can be used safely with the proper engineering and safety systems in place, even accounting for the worst case scenario.

    Congrats to the author for taking a stand and holding GE accountable. Like BP, they chose short term profit over the long term health and well-being of the planet and its citizens.

  6. Dear 9518...

    Thanks for writing in. Your remarks are well-expressed; I respect you. However, I have had grave reservations about the efficacy of nuclear power since shortly before the TMI accident in 1979.

    I love science, watch PBS science shows, go to physics lectures when available, read
    science websites online, books, magazines, etc. I'm not anti-science, just anti BAD science, which I believe this technology is.
    When, for just one example, will we achieve
    the necessary paradigm shift to end the long-lived radwaste problem? I know they've
    been trying, but so far, it's been a no-go

    Awhile back, Dr. Michio Kaku, physicist/author/radio and TV broadcaster, coined a phrase to
    describe the overall dilemma: "Nuclear power
    is an unforgiving, unfinished technology".

    I think the accidents we're aware of around the world have shown this: one careless mistake by a reactor worker, natural disaster,
    poor design engineering, and the spent fuel
    building up over time, voila, un accidente.

    I'm not in favor of immediately shutting
    down all 23 GE Mark Is in the U.S. That's
    too many at once out of the 104 reactors
    here. Instead, shut down three to four of
    the worst ones, which I believe the NRC
    might even consider when they convene a
    public hearing on March 21st, Monday, in
    Rockville, MD.

    (Please write in again, whatever your
    opinions. Dialogue is so vital when trying
    to get at the truth of anything.)

    My basic position: begin phasing out oil,
    nuclear and gas, transition to a safer renewable mix of energy sources. What's
    in that mix would of course vary from region
    to region.

    Best Wishes,A.

  7. Ladeira, I was not anonymous. I was chiding anonymous. I still can't see what he/she was talking about.

  8. Just realized. It was "touche" that confused you.

  9. Dear Cletis,

    No worries: Even with any potential miscommunications, I'll always be on your side
    because of the values you've espoused in your
    various emissives.

    Best to you and yours, A