BBC journalist on Fukushima story you didn’t hear on CNN: “They Knew” — “I’ve seen a lot of sick stuff in my career, but this was sick on a new level”

Published: November 11th, 2011 at 1:44 pm ET
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Fukushima: They Knew, Greg Palast (New York Times-bestselling author, freelance journalist for the BBC and The Observer), November 10, 2011 [Emphasis Added]:

  • “Completely and Utterly Fail in an Earthquake”
  • The Fukushima story you didn’t hear on CNN

I’ve seen a lot of sick stuff in my career, but this was sick on a new level.

[...]

NEW YORK, 1986

Two senior nuclear plant engineers were spilling out their souls and files on our huge conference table, blowing away my government investigations team with the inside stuff about the construction of the Shoreham, New York, power station.

[...]

On March 12 this year, as I watched Fukushima melt, I knew:  the “SQ” [Seismic Qualification] had been faked.

[...]

I was ready to vomit.  Because I knew who had designed the plant, who had built it and whom Tokyo Electric Power was having rebuild it:  Shaw Construction.  The latest alias of Stone & Webster, the designated builder for every one of the four new nuclear plants that the Obama Administration has approved for billions in federal studies.

But I had The Notebook, the diaries of the earthquake inspector for the company.

[...]

All field engineers keep a diary. Gordon Dick, a supervisor, wasn’t supposed to show his to us. I asked him to show it to us and, reluctantly, he directed me to these notes about the “SQ” tests.

SQ is nuclear-speak for “Seismic Qualification.” A seismically qualified nuclear plant won’t melt down if you shake it. A “seismic event” can be an earthquake or a Christmas present from Al Qaeda. You can’t run a nuclear reactor in the USA or Europe or Japan without certified SQ.

[...]

Dick’s subordinate at the nuclear plant, Robert Wiesel, conducted the standard seismic review. Wiesel flunked his company. No good. Dick then ordered Wiesel to change his report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, change it from failed to passed. Dick didn’t want to make Wiesel do it, but Dick was under the gun himself, acting on direct command from corporate chiefs. From The Notebook:

Wiesel was very upset. He seemed very nervous. Very agitated. [He said,] “I believe these are bad results and I believe it’s reportable,” and then he took the volume of federal regulations from the shelf and went to section 50.55(e), which describes reportable deficiencies at a nuclear plant and [they] read the section together, with Wiesel pointing to the appropriate paragraphs that federal law clearly required [them and the company] to report the Category II, Seismic I deficiencies.

Wiesel then expressed his concern that he was afraid that if he [Wiesel] reported the deficiencies, he would be fired, but that if he didn’t report the deficiencies, he would be breaking a federal law. . . .

[...]

Why the hell would his company make this man walk the line? Why did they put the gun to his head, to make him conceal mortal danger? It was the money. It’s always the money. Fixing the seismic problem would have cost the plant’s owner half a billion dollars easy. A guy from corporate told Dick, “Bob is a good man. He’ll do what’s right. Don’t worry about Bob.”

[...]

But I think we should all worry about Bob [Wiesel]. The company he worked for, Stone & Webster Engineering, built or designed about a third of the nuclear plants in the United States.

[This is an excerpt in FreePress.org from Vultures' Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Fraudsters, to be released this Monday.  Click here to get the videos and the book.]

h/t Anonymous tips

Here is a BBC video of Palast so you can familiarize yourself with his work, if you’re not already:

Published: November 11th, 2011 at 1:44 pm ET
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49 comments

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