Saturday, March 19, 2011

40 years of safe operation

Prior to my consulting days, I was a nuclear-trained submarine officer in the U.S. Navy, so I've been following the terrible news about the nuclear plants in Japan closely.

GE faces a lot of awkward questions about the containment structure.  The defense they have offered in a recent press release seems absurdly inadequate:

The Mark I containment has a proven track record of safety and reliability for over 40 years and there are 32 BWR Mark I reactors operating as designed worldwide. 
General Electric press release dated March 16, 2011
In those 40 years, how many of those 32 Mark 1 reactors have had a partial meltdown in which the containment was actually tested?

GE's comment is a bit like referring to the air bag system in a five-year-old car in which you've never had an accident: "In five years, the air bag has never failed to deploy when required."

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