What Happened at Fukushima and Why It Can Happen Here


“The primary cause is an extended loss of power at the power plant, as ironic as that might be.  When the earthquake occurred, the normal grid was lost, and the plant’s own in-plant power from the generators was also lost because of the result of the earthquake. . . .  The tsunami came in and wiped out the emergency diesel generators. . . .  There’s a backup to the backup: this plant has, as almost all US plants have, banks of batteries to provide enough power for one safety system per reactor.  In Japan, the battery banks were sized to last for 8 hours.  In the US plants, most of our reactors are designed for 4 hours.  So, the chances of our reactors surviving better with half the capacity is probably slim.” — David Lochbaum

“It’s important to know now that Fukushima had dry cask storage [for spent fuels]. . . .  They [dry casks] were hit by the tsunami, they got wet, they got muddy, but they didn’t melt, and they didn’t explode, and they are still there today essentially intact.  The lesson here . . . is to get as much of the nuclear fuel out of the fuel pool and into dry cask storage where they are much safer.” — Arnie Gundersen

Arnie Gundersen is an energy advisor with 39-years of nuclear power engineering experience.  David Lochbaum is Director of the Nuclear Safety Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists.  This public forum, sponsored by C-10, was held at the Boston Public Library on 16 June 2011.  Video by Fairewinds Associates.

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