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.