What Will we Learn from Fukushima

Posted by By at 11 May, at 14 : 10 PM Print

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is set to receive its first monthly briefing on Japan’s nuclear disaster on Thursday. A task force created to examine what went wrong at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Plant will start the conversation of what the U.S. can do to prevent such a catastrophe.

One of the world’s leading authorities on nuclear power, Arnie Gunderson, is not taking an optimistic view, Gunderson suspects the briefing will be more perfunctory than constructive based on the NRC’s reaction in the days immediately following the March hurricane and tsunami that knocked out Fukushima.

“The NRC has systematically downplayed the event from the very first day,” Gunderson told Rock The Capital.

Of all of the issues that have materialized since the crisis in Japan, Gunderson would like the task force to first address and acknowledge that General Electric’s Mark 1 design is flawed. That design is found at Fukushima and in 22 percent of the reactors operating in the United States.

Gunderson of Fairewinds Associates says its evident that Mark 1 is a weak design with all three of its reactors leaking at Fukushima. The plant’s other three reactors were built by another company.

Gunderson asks rhetorically, “will they ever shut one down.”

As for the current state of Fukushima, Gunderson says Unit 1 remains highly radioactive even after pumping out the radiation. “It’s so radioactive it will take months, more like years” to clean it up.

He describes Unit 2 as probably the closest to not getting worse, but it’s “still leaking like a sieve.”

Gunderson is convinced that Unit 2 has experienced a meltdown, but Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) operators of Fukushima have not reached the same conclusion.

And in Unit 3, Gunderson says the temperature continues to rise, and the fuel pool “is a mess.”

C-SPAN will televise the NRC briefing starting at 9:30, but neither commissioners, or members of the task force will take questions.

(You can also watch it live on the web by clicking on Rock The Capital.)

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