Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Day I scooped Greg Palast by 4 Years

I am not a paid journalist–nor a syndicated one. So, I was proud to note today that I had scooped Greg Palast on a story by 4 years. Please read Greg Palast’s article on how Japan is working on and building USA nuclear plants.

Read the Palast syndicated article and then go to the bottom and read mine, dated from 2007.--kAS

Tokyo Electric to Build US Nuclear Plants: The No BS Info on Japan’s Disastrous Nuclear Operators
Greg Palast | Monday 14 March 2011

I need to speak to you, not as a reporter, but in my former capacity as lead investigator in several government nuclear plant fraud and racketeering investigations.

I don’t know the law in Japan, so I can’t tell you if Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) can plead insanity to the homicides about to happen.

But what will Obama plead? The administration, just months ago, asked Congress to provide a $4 billion loan guarantee for two new nuclear reactors to be built and operated on the Gulf Coast of Texas – by TEPCO and local partners. As if the Gulf hasn’t suffered enough. Here are the facts about TEPCO and the industry you haven’t heard on CNN:

The failure of emergency systems at Japan’s nuclear plants comes as no surprise to those of us who have worked in the field.

Nuclear plants the world over must be certified for what is called “SQ” or “Seismic Qualification.” That is, the owners swear that all components are designed for the maximum conceivable shaking event, be it from an earthquake or an exploding Christmas card from al-Qaeda.

The most inexpensive way to meet your SQ is to lie. The industry does it all the time. The government team I worked with caught them once, in 1988, at the Shoreham plant in New York. Correcting the SQ problem at Shoreham would have cost a cool billion, so engineers were told to change the tests from “failed” to “passed.”

The company that put in the false safety report? Stone & Webster, now the nuclear unit of Shaw Construction, which will work with TEPCO to build the Texas plant. Lord help us.

There’s more.

Last night, I heard CNN reporters repeat the official line that the tsunami disabled the pumps needed to cool the reactors, implying that water unexpectedly got into the diesel generators that run the pumps.

These safety backup systems are the “EDGs” in nuke-speak: Emergency Diesel Generators. That they didn’t work in an emergency is like a fire department telling us they couldn’t save a building because “it was on fire.”

What dim bulbs designed this system? One of the reactors dancing with death at Fukushima Station 1 was built by Toshiba. Toshiba was also an architect of the emergency diesel system.

Now be afraid. Obama’s $4 billion bailout in the making is called the South Texas Project. It’s been sold as a red-white-and-blue way to make power domestically with a reactor from Westinghouse, a great American brand. However, the reactor will be made substantially in Japan by the company that bought the US brand name, Westinghouse – Toshiba.

I once had a Toshiba computer. I only had to send it in once for warranty work. However, it’s kind of hard to mail back a reactor with the warranty slip inside the box if the fuel rods are melted and sinking halfway to the earth’s core.

TEPCO and Toshiba don’t know what my son learned in eighth grade science class: tsunamis follow Pacific Rim earthquakes. So, these companies are real stupid, eh? Maybe. More likely is that the diesels and related systems wouldn’t have worked on a fine, dry afternoon.

Back in the day, when we checked the emergency backup diesels in America, a mind-blowing number flunked. At the New York nuclear plant, for example, the builders swore under oath that their three diesel engines were ready for an emergency. They’d been tested. The tests were faked; the diesels run for just a short time at low speed. When the diesels were put through a real test under emergency-like conditions, the crankshaft on the first one snapped in about an hour, then the second and third. We nicknamed the diesels, “Snap, Crackle and Pop.”

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(Note: Moments after I wrote that sentence, word came that two of three diesels failed at the Tokai Station as well.)

In the US, we supposedly fixed our diesels after much complaining by the industry. But in Japan, no one tells TEPCO to do anything the Emperor of Electricity doesn’t want to do.

I get lots of confidential notes from nuclear industry insiders. One engineer, a big name in the field, is especially concerned that Obama waved the come-hither check to Toshiba and TEPCO to lure them to America. The US has a long history of whistleblowers willing to put themselves on the line to save the public. In our racketeering case in New York, the government only found out about the seismic test fraud because two courageous engineers, Gordon Dick and John Daly, gave our team the documentary evidence.

In Japan, it’s simply not done. The culture does not allow the salary men, who work all their lives for one company, to drop the dime.

Not that US law is a wondrous shield: both engineers in the New York case were fired and blacklisted by the industry. Nevertheless, the government (local, state, federal) brought civil racketeering charges against the builders. The jury didn’t buy the corporation’s excuses and, in the end, the plant was, thankfully, dismantled.

Am I on some kind of xenophobic anti-Nippon crusade? No. In fact, I’m far more frightened by the American operators in the South Texas nuclear project, especially Shaw. Stone & Webster, now the Shaw nuclear division, was also the firm that conspired to fake the EDG tests in New York . (The company’s other exploits have been exposed by their former consultant, John Perkins, in his book, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.”) If the planet wants to shiver, consider this: Toshiba and Shaw have recently signed a deal to become worldwide partners in the construction of nuclear stations.

The other characters involved at the South Texas Plant that Obama is backing should also give you the willies. But as I’m in the middle of investigating the American partners, I’ll save that for another day.

So, if we turned to America’s own nuclear contractors, would we be safe? Well, two of the melting Japanese reactors, including the one whose building blew sky high, were built by General Electric of the Good Old US of A.

After Texas, you’re next. The Obama administration is planning a total of $56 billion in loans for nuclear reactors all over America.

And now, the homicides:

CNN is only interested in body counts, how many workers burnt by radiation, swept away or lost in the explosion. These plants are now releasing radioactive steam into the atmosphere. Be skeptical about the statements that the “levels are not dangerous.” These are the same people who said these meltdowns could never happen. Over years, not days, there may be a thousand people, two thousand, ten thousand who will suffer from cancers induced by this radiation.

In my New York investigation, I had the unhappy job of totaling up post-meltdown “morbidity” rates for the county government. It would be irresponsible for me to estimate the number of cancer deaths that will occur from these releases without further information; but it is just plain criminal for the TEPCO shoguns to say that these releases are not dangerous.

Indeed, the fact that residents near the Japanese nuclear plants were not issued iodine pills to keep at the ready shows TEPCO doesn’t care who lives and who dies, whether in Japan or the USA. The carcinogenic isotopes that are released at Fukushima are already floating to Seattle with effects we simply cannot measure.

Heaven help us. Because Obama won’t.
Source URL:

HERE IS my Original on the topic.

July 22, 2007


By Kevin Anthony Stoda

Pork belly politics are as American as Texas toast. The rice fields of Japan in Niigata prefecture brought the Japanese one of the more colorful kingmakers, Kakuei Tanaka, in the country’s post-world war two history. Will Japan help Texas develop nuclear power in the future with local Texas kingmakers help?

It is time to look into the matter, Texas, before it is too late. Here is why?

Even though ex-prime minister and kingmaker of many other prime ministers in Japan, Kakuei Tanaka passed away over a decade ago, his legacy still seems to be popping up-even in earthquakes. The Choetsu Earthquake of July 16, 2007 in Niigata Prefecture registered at least 6.8 on the Richter scale. There were numerous other shocks, with one nearly 5 on the Richter scale, in the area of the world’s largest nuclear reactor complex.

There were about ten deaths locally, much local destruction of hundreds of mostly wooden buildings, and nearly a thousand other individual injuries. However, the biggest concern for the whole planet is what occurred at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s [TEPCO] Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power station, where according to ENS [Environment News Service] four of seven reactors “were operating or set to begin operation when the earthquake struck. They automatically shut down when the earth began to shake, but an electric transformer outside one of the reactors caught fire and burned for about two hours.”

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, according to BBC Radio, suffered a series of some 50+ leaks and other disruptions. The plant was built under questionable conditions.

In the wake of the quake, drums of waste material were knocked over. The four reactors had to be scrammed. There were transformer fires, and power failures occurred in about 22,000 houses. The scariest report of all is that several times radioactive gasses were released into the atmosphere. Local officials did not tell the public of the leaks in a timely fashion.

Many people outside Japan are astounded that the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power station was not built to higher specifications to take earthquakes of that range on the reactor scale-as such quakes occur every decade on Japane’s earthquake racked islands. The choice of location for these plants were always controversial as the sands on which the plants were built were not appropriate to the task. Much of the plant had to be buried deeper under ground than originally planned.
Wikipedia states: “According to the Guiness Book of World Records, it [the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power station] is the largest nuclear plant in the world, with a total electrical output of 8,212 MW. This is sufficient to provide electricity to about 16 million households. Since there are some 47 million households reported by the Japanese census…, this makes the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa NPP an extremely important cornerstone in the electricity market of Japan.”

TEPCO, the Japanese company that has been constructing the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power station over the past two decades, recently had been working with the South Texas Project [STP], owned by NRG Energy, helping to build similar reactors in the United States.

A history of various scandals have enveloped the TEPCO project at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Plant since the godfather of modern Japanese pork-barrel politics, Kakuei Tanaka, first called for the building of these plants in 1968.

Local residents in the area have been split on the plant for decades, with one community, Kariwa, voting soundly in 2002 to suspend the plant’s operations after more recent scandals related to transportation of nuclear materials and public exposure to released gasses at the plants.

Japan, which is only behind France in its dependence on nuclear power in the world today, has been planning to increase dependence on nuclear power in the decades to come.

The country has approximately 55 nuclear plants scattered around the adversely seismically affected islands of Japan. The paternalistic Japanese government appears to continue to be keeping the facts of what has occurred at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Plant from view of the local peoples and of concerned potential nuclear consumers in Texas and other parts of the globe.

In recent years, there have been many problems and dangers produces with nuclear power plants caused by earthquakes. One of the more recent cases was in Kanazawa, where a district court ruled against operation of one plant after an earthquake.



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