This morning the news came that more than 2 weeks after the tsunami in Japan, 4 of the 6 nuclear reactors at Fukashima are still not stable. Indeed, 1 or 2 of the reactors are suspected of having leaks from, at best, the pipes into and out of the core reactor containment housing, and, at worst, the reactor containment housing itself. Numerous stories have already been run about how Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), the owner and operator of the Fukashima plant has had a checkered past with regard to safety and inspection compliance. That’s to be expected when large corporations have unwarranted political influence and when an established industry “captures” the regulators. See here for more about regulatory capture.
But let’s ask who made the containment vessels and the reactor itself which has failed. Why it’s none other than the U.S.’s own General Electric. The very same firm that holds itself as “bringing good things to life” in this case is “bringing half-lives to things and people”. Economic Policy Institute explains:
There can hardly be a more frightening person to be President Obama’s pet CEO than GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt. Yet, that is exactly who has the President’s ear at the White House.
It is becoming apparent that GE, rather than “bringing good things to life”, has a unique ability to cozy up to government, massage regulations and bring dangerous toxins into our lives—and I mean seriously dangerous.
NYT now tells us about the containment vessels at the damaged nuclear power plants in Japan are manufactured by GE:
…the type of containment vessel and pressure suppression system used in the failing reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant — and in 23 American reactors at 16 plants — is physically less robust, and it has long been thought to be more susceptible to failure in an emergency than competing designs.
G.E. began making the Mark 1 boiling water reactors in the 1960s, marketing them as cheaper and easier to build — in part because they used a comparatively smaller and less expensive containment structure.
Feeling better about the value system and judgements of the people advising the President? I’m not.