Flaws in US General Electric Reactors: Japan Starts Up After Fukushima by John Robles

Japan has restarted its first nuclear reactor since the country shut down all of its reactors amid safety concerns after the Fukushima disaster. On Sunday the Kansai Electric Power Company restarted the no. 3 unit at the Ohi nuclear power plant. With the No.4 unit scheduled to go back on-line later in July.

The decision to start up the reactor was made despite widespread protests and the fact that approximately 70% of Japanese want the government to prohibit the use of nuclear power indefinitely.

According to NHK some 7,000 protesters marched through Tokyo in opposition to the planned restart and to nuclear power, calling for a ban on nuclear power production.

The Ohi nuclear power plant uses pressurized water reactors (PWR) unlike those that melted down at Fukushima, which were boiling water reactors (BWR). They are both classified as light water nuclear reactors. The main difference between a BWR and PWR is that in a BWR, the reactor core heats water, which turns to steam and then drives a steam turbine.

In a PWR, the reactor core heats pressurized water which does not boil but does reach the boiling point. This hot water then exchanges heat with a lower pressure water system, which does in fact boil and turns to steam to drive the turbine.

The BWR was developed in the U.S. by the Idaho National Laboratory and General Electric in the mid-1950s.

The particular model used at Fukushima had inherent design flaws in the containment structure from the outset and engineers predicted the exact scenario that happened at Fukushima.

The General Electric Corporation began constructing the Mark-1 BWR reactors in the 1960s, claiming that they were cheaper and easier to build in part because they used a smaller and less expensive containment structure, and this is where the main problems lie.

A fact sheet published from the anti-nuclear advocacy group Nuclear Information and Resource Service, which is available on the internet, details problems with the design and states that in 1972 an Atomic Energy Commission member, Dr. Stephen Hanuaer, recommended that this type of system be discontinued.

More questions arose about the design in the mid-1980s, after Nuclear Regulatory Commission official Harold Denton stated that the Mark-1 reactors had; “…a 90 percent probability of bursting should the fuel rods overheat and melt in an accident.”

Thirty-five years ago, while reviewing the design for the Mark-1, Nuclear Engineers Dale G. Bridenbaugh and two of his colleagues at General Electric were pressured into okaying the designs for the Mark-1 and were forced to resign after becoming convinced that the Mark 1 was so flawed it could lead to a catastrophe.

The key issue in this piece is, and there is very little detailed information out there on the subject, how many of Japan’s nuclear power plants run the G-E BWR Mark-1 reactors. All of the Fukushima reactors used the Mark 1 containment system while the sixth had the upgraded to Mark 2 system.

Below is a list of all Japanese ВRW reactors.

Reactor Location Type Containment Rating Status Operator

Fukushima I-1 Futaba, Fukushima BWR 439 Meltdown/exploded March 2011 TEPCO

Fukushima I-2 BWR Mark I 760 Meltdown March 2011 TEPCO

Fukushima I-3 BWR Mark I 760 Meltdown/exploded March 2011 TEPCO

Fukushima I-4 BWR Mark I 760 Meltdown/exploded March 2011 TEPCO

Fukushima I-5 BWR Mark I 760 Operational April 18, 1978 TEPCO

Fukushima I-6 BWR Mark II 1067 Operational October 1979 TEPCO

Fukushima II-1 BWR Mark II 1067 Operational April 1982 TEPCO

Fukushima II-2 BWR Mark II A 1067 Operational February 1984 TEPCO

Fukushima II-3 BWR Mark II A 1067 Operational June 1985 TEPCO

Fukushima II-4 BWR Mark II A 1067 Operational August 1987 TEPCO

Genkai-1 PWR 529 Operational October 1975 Kyūshū Electric

Hamaoka-1 BWR 515 Operational March 1976 Chūbu Electric

Hamaoka-2 BWR 806 Operational November 1978 Chūbu Electric

Hamaoka-3 BWR-5 1056 Operational August 1987 Chūbu Electric

Hamaoka-4 BWR-5 1092 Operational September 1993 Chūbu Electric

Higashidōri-1 BWR 1067 Operational December 2005 Tōhoku Electric

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa-1 BWR 1067 Operational September 1985 TEPCO

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa-2 BWR 1067 Operational September 1990 TEPCO

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa-3 BWR 1067 Operational August 1993 TEPCO

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa-4 BWR 1067 Operational August 1994 TEPCO

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa-5 BWR 1067 Operational April 1990 TEPCO

Onagawa-1 BWR 498 Operational June 1984 Tōhoku Electric

Onagawa-2 BWR 796 Operational July 1995 Tōhoku Electric

Onagawa-3 BWR 798 Operational January 2002 Tōhoku Electric

Shika-1 BWR 505 Operational July 1993 RIKUDEN

Tōkai-2 BWR 1056 Operational November 1978 JAPC

Tsuruga-1 BWR 341 Operational March 1970 JAPC

JPDR-II BWR 13 1963–1982

Maybe it is time that all of these reactors were upgraded or shut down. Most have been on-line since the 1970s, and it is doubtful they become safer with time.

UK Nuclear Weapons Components and Arms Sales Under Question

6 January, 2014 22:33

Recent news that the United Kingdom may in fact be arming or assisting in weapons deliveries to Somali pirates should be of great concern not only to the companies and individuals who have paid millions upon millions of dollars to the pirates to secure the release of ships, cargoes and crews, but also to all of the governments, including that of the Russian Federation, that have also spent millions and risked lives while engaged in anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden and other pirate-infested waters off the coast of Africa and Somalia.

The UK's Independent, a publication which has regularly published articles and information shedding a less than positive light on the dealings of the UK Government, recently reported that in a 15 month period, between April 2012 and June 2013, over 44,000 guns of various types were sent to "tackle piracy in East Africa".

Although officially the weapons were supposed to be used by security firms the sheer number of fresh weapons exported by the UK during the period in question raised the alarm among members of the House of Commons Arms Export Controls Committee especially in light of the fact that the firms in question already have thousands of weapons in their armories. Surely it is suspicious and call for concern why these firms which have been operating at full force would all of a sudden need to escalate the level of their already adequate arsenals with the addition of 30,000 assault rifles, 11,000 rifles and 2,536 pistols.

Members of the committee are right to voice concern especially given the light that the scourge of piracy has all but been eliminated and that the weapons could be destined to the pirates themselves or to other regimes in Africa and perhaps even the Middle East where ongoing violence is taking place.

According to the Independent Ann McKechin, a committee member said: "The evidence provided to us by Mr. Bell seems to suggest that the department did not have a process of looking at the cumulative number of weapons and whether those exports fitted the scenario on the ground needed for protection."

Unfortunately for those profiting from weapons deals the latest enquiry is only part of a wider inquiry into arms exports from the UK which the Independent continues has already attempted to force the UK's recalcitrant Business Secretary Vince Cable into publicly revealing the names of British companies who were given licenses to export items to Syria that could be used to make chemical weapons, something he continues to refuse to do.

Given the record of US/UK/NATO in the Middle East and Africa and the propensity for continuing and escalating conflicts in order to further expand militarily and maintain the profit margins of their military industrial complexes and self-serving desire to stay relevant while justifying their over-bloated military budgets, it is very reasonable to question whether so many weapons are needed, not in fact to maintain "security", but to continue to have a well armed "enemy" thus justifying their own expansion and existence, something particularly true of NATO which has arrogated unto itself authority to operate almost worldwide.

NATO may be meddling in the region, as the African coast is nowhere near the North Atlantic, but anti-piracy concerns and missions have in fact been supported by a wide range of countries that may in other areas be at odds against each other.

The Russian Federation's mission which began in 2008 has been one of the most successful in the Gulf of Aden and off the Horn of Africa with deployments by such sleek and deadly craft as the Udaloy I class anti-submarine destroyer Severomorsk and other flagships of the Russian Navy successfully freeing hostages, capturing and liquidating pirates and escorting over 800 commercial vessels and convoys through the dangerous waters off the Somali coast without a single loss of life.

Thanks to Russia's patrols and increased security 2013 saw piracy in the region almost completely eliminated. Currently over 60% of all vessels have armed guards onboard and travel through the pirate infested waters at higher cruising speeds making them much harder to catch and board, as does razor wire, high-pressure hoses and secure areas on ships from which crews can wait out an attack and call for assistance.

In 2012 the economic loss to piracy off of Somalia was calculated at being about $18 billion annually but that figure has dropped to a negligible amount as have the number of attacks, boardings and hostages taking situations. All of which begs the question: why the 44,000 guns?

When we look at the UK's record regarding arms sales and in particular those to regimes and states with questionable records in the sphere of human rights, then the 44,000 guns does not seem that bad. In July of 2013 the Independent also published a damning article titled "Blood Money: UK's £12.3bn arms sales to repressive states" in which details were given regarding questionable arms and technology deals.

The US and the UK have a long and bloody track record of profiting from war and from weapons sales, with UK lawmakers sounding the alarm multiple times in recent years regarding the supply of weapons, include components for nuclear bombs that have been delivered to questionable regimes and countries with poor human rights records.

Multiple sources support the Independent which claims the UK had over 3,000 export licenses for military and intelligence equipment worth a total of £12.3bn for 2013. The UK's Mirror reported in October that: "Nuclear weapon chemicals, CS gas, bomb parts, grenades and guns are included in 5,000 controlled product licenses granted since 2010. Other orders of note include one from Egypt for 1,900 assault rifles and combat shotguns, Deuterium compounds which are used in nuclear weapons for Saudi Arabia.

So while the US/UK are dictating to the world about democracy and human rights and "rogue nations" the hypocrisy or the UK is stunning when one takes into account that of the 27 countries on the UK Foreign Office's (FCO) own list of countries where they deem there are human rights concerns, only 2 of them are not beneficiaries of UK weapons export licenses.

Countries that have been demonized and against which the drums of war have been often beaten but who the UK is arming include: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Columbia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Zimbabwe and other countries where there is open armed conflict.

Of course it is naïve to believe that weapons are actually only sold to countries that deserve them or are worthy. With the record of US/UK creation and support of groups like Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood this should be clear. However it is particularly dirty when these same forces are used to begin and foment conditions or pretexts for invasions which do nothing but slaughter innocent civilian populations. OF course for the weapons manufacturers and the war profiteers this means nothing, the only concern is maintaining their profit growth and their own bottom lines.

Sky News reports that the UK actually sold materials to Syria that could have been used to make chemical weapons, with the Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC) citing that as one example of questionable deals being carried out by UK contractors and countries on the (FCO) list.  

The world community should rightfully be concerned about 44,000 guns which may have "fallen" into the hands of Somali pirates, but it should be more concerned about nuclear bomb components that may have been delivered to Saudi Arabia and ingredients for chemical weapons that may have fallen into the hands of the Syrian "rebels" who the West is so found of arming and supporting and who have been guilty of some of the most horrendous acts of blood thirsty violence in recent world history.


Last Update: 11/19/2023 20:00 -0000


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