Skip to comments.GE Not Exposed to Nuclear Liability in Japan (Despite known flawed design)
Posted on 03/16/2011 3:36:49 AM PDT by tobyhill
Thanks to a nuclear-industry practice known as channeling law, General Electric (GE: 19.59, 0.00, 0.00%) doesnt appear to be on the hook for liabilities related to the nuclear crisis at Japanese reactors designed 40 years ago by the blue-chip conglomerate.
Since the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that has paralyzed Japan, GEs stock has slumped as much as 7.4%, in part due to worries about its legal exposure to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility, which is said to be teetering near a nuclear catastrophe.
However, analysts believe GE has little to worry about from a legal perspective and its bottom line may actually get padded by a potential increase in demand for sources of energy it specializes in.
It is worth noting there has been criticism about GEs design of the boiling water reactor and containment system. Regulators in the 1960s and 1970s expressed concern the containment vessel would probably burst, spewing dangerous radiation, if the cooling systems ever failed.
(Excerpt) Read more at foxbusiness.com ...
A caller to Limbaugh yesterday, who claimed some familiarity with the original design and sale, said that the reactors were built to Japanese specifications and thus the responsibility lies with them. The reactors had originally been scheduled for decommissioning this year — but that had been put off.
Stay classy Fox.
Gotta get the lawsuits ready
GE has been the biggest corporate pusher of “Green Energy” so it’s worth noting that just like oil and coal there are risk in everything.
Thank God Immelt and Obummer will still be able to be rich and play golf without any ethical questions hanging over their communist heads. Gee, I’m relieved! They are both such nice guys.
I assume then that you are ok with them burying the nuclear waste next door to you?
Exactly, there was a certain level of risk the Japanese authority assumed at the time in directing the engineering of the reactor.
Reiterate one more time...does one plan for a 100 year event, 1000 year event, or a million year event? Most plans I’ve ever seen require the 100 year event included as the speck of the design. This event was bigger than a 100 year event.
You get anything that exceeds the designed specs. it becomes an act of God...sh*t hit the fan....
The reality is if the tsunami had been the planned 7 meter event, none of this would be happening. The reactor would be performing beyond design specifications.
At what point will Obama throw GE under the bus?
I’m no Immelt fan, but surely you’re not holding him responsible for reactors GE designed 40+ years ago. Right?
We call them diesel generators. I worked in a facility that had one system with three units that was bigger than a a box car. It had capacity to run the buildings necessary operations for a week without external power.
A nuclear expert guest on Hannity yesterday (I think it was yesterday) said the reactors had been fine through the earthquake, that it was the tsunami — the size and scope of which was remarkable — that had caused the cracks and the backup power (cooling capacity) failures.
Only if (a) they stop funding him, or (b) it looks advantageous to the “O” [the big catch-all “if”].
Assuming this is true, regulators had the power to stop the design and implementation in the country they were located. They did not. That makes the regulators negligent and derilect in carrying out their duty.
Assuming this is true, then it is govt's fault.
Seeing the GE designed and admittedly “flawed” reactors melt down on live TV will not be good for business. Sell your GE shares now.
The GE shills, and corporate goons are all over the place this week deflecting criticism. That caller was a PR guy from GE no doubt.
Nothing to be advised about. 0bama wasn’t even on the radar when these plants were built or designed.
People are going to want to get all up into not only GE, but all the design specifications. Germany has already shut down reactors of this age for ‘inspections and evaluations.’
So the question remains for over-reacting folks...what level do you regulate too? What risk level do you accept?
It is a double edged sword right now. Forty years ago this natural disaster event in Japan would have likely resulted in the loss of life far beyond what they are today. Building designs etc. have vastly improved since then and that makes this that much more heartbreaking.
What had not been upgraded to keep up with modern expectations? Again, the risk managers would have only been considering the 100 year event horizon, even though more lives would be saved through modern building design. The risk levels changed and actually increased from a 1 in 100 years to a 40 in 100 years and more lives are in play. Japan had just authorized a 12 year extension on these designs. They were taking on over a 52% risk level or higher.
But...if the ‘event’ occurs...it is an act of God. At what point though is it no longer an act of God? GE wasn’t and isn’t responsible for the Japanese assumed risk.
Many of these plants were built knowing there were disposal issues too. Scientists and designers at the time figured we would have resolved that issue by now. We have not.
Many plants around the world reprocess or send their fuel for reprocessing keeping the cooling ponds at lower spent fuel storage levels lower. The United States banned reprocessing. Many of our spent fuel pools are near or are at capacity.
At what risk?
Exactly right. The fission process shutdown as designed. It's the fossil fuel, global-warming causing diesel backup generators that *all* failed. Had that not been the case, the nuclear fuel would've been cooled normally. The engineers are doing a magnificent job in a very very difficult situation.
There are newer designs that effectively eliminate the need for power to water cool.
One time Rush fill-in Roger Hedgecock had one of Sandia National Laboratories nuclear power failure/accident experts on yesterday for his national show.
The guy had two important points: One, even worst case (fuel melts through containment) this is a local problem for Japan and not a threat to the U.S.
Two, even Sandia's simulations never considered multiple, simultaneous cooling failures like this. In other words: the scope of the quake/tsunami disasters have placed the Japanese in uncharted, unconsidered, unstudied territory and anyone who claims this was foreseen or foreseeable is a liar.
This will be a major learning experience but I think i tells us even the first generation reactors are very safe in the face of history making cataclysm.
I was surprised to hear of Germany's panicked decision to shut-down 7 of its pre-1980 nuclear reactors. However, I see the Greens there pushed through an agreement to end nuclear power in Germany by 2020 in the early 2000s, Merkel had attempted to delay that into the 2030s but public pressure is moving those 7 oldest ahead to the scrap heap. For a engineering and tech savvy country, it's disappointing Germany will abandon nuclear power. Reports suggest relative proximity to Chernobyl (under 800 mi) plays a part in their home-grown anti-nuke hysteria.
They already did that.
Hanford Atomic Works, Richland, WA.
Storing nuclear waste is NOT a technical problem, it’s a political problem.
Design flaw or user error?
I suspect I'm the latter.
Design flaw or user error?
I suspect I'm the latter.
But Jimmy Carter didn't want that, nuclear weapons “could” be made with the reprocessing.
Looking for info on the Fermi 3 reactor near my place and the first thing I find is the “Stop Fermi 3 homepage”. They basically equate Fermi 3 to Fermi 1 which suffered a partial meltdown in 1966 during testing.
Fermi 1 was a fast breeder reactor. Fermi 2 is a boiling water reactor. Fermi 3 will be an Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (If its ever built)
“Nuclear” accidents in the USA. 7 total death (3 from an explosion and 4 more electrocutions)
HAHA. Got me on that one.
Not so much user error as... How to say this...? Poor lifestyle decisions...
Thanks for that anyhow, I needed another slap this morning.
This is silly, the design has worked marvelously.
The parenthetical editorial comment in the title is wrong, and is inflammatory.
The specification for the plant did not include an earthquake of this magnitude. Further, I have seen no credible allegation that the plant did not meet its specification.
We need to deal in facts, not emotion and innuendo.
“GE has been the biggest corporate pusher of Green Energy”
Just trying to be a fair and balanced, good corporate citizen politically and culturally.
That's not entirely true. Many such events are included in the design specification for the plant. If the catastrophes are within the specification design limits, expect the plant to withstand the catastrophe.
In this instance, the earthquake was an order of magnitude larger than specified. The tsunami may have been over-spec as well.
The death total is higher, but not by much. There are deaths among the “gypsies” — men and women, many from poor rural areas who make big money following the plant refueling and maintenance shutdowns and getting very high hourly labor rates for doing a few days, or some cases hours, of work in “hot” areas. Some would get a whole years dose in one month, and then move onto another plant where they would lie about their exposure history. That’s what I remember from my various experiences in the nuke power business from 1976 through 1986 or so.
At the time there was no national registry for rad workers, nor do I know if there is one today. I was camping out in Parvin (NJ) State Park while I was working at the Salem nuke park on various systems. The Park Rangers there would stop by at night for a few beers and the campfire. They told me of a friend of theirs who had been a “rad pool diver” — he died in his early thirties of a rare liver cancer. I never checked the story out, but I suspect that story would be typical, as I got to talk with a number of the Rad Worker gypsies and learned their “scam”. Money meant their lives.
I’m apologize for offending you, since you were not the headline writer. My comment was aimed at the writer of the parenthetical comment.
What I have seen thus far is a lot of angst over the plant not being able to withstand what hit it - without any acknowledgement that what hit was well above the design limits specified by the Japanese government.
The news business, Fox News included, seems to have forsaken all focus on fact, and wallows in emotional appeal. That is just my opinion, of course.
“It won’t break my heart to see GE take a healthy hit of frivolous lawsuit reality.”
And the US taxpayers will foot the bill for it. No thanks.
I would hope taxpayer’s wouldn’t be required to bail them out but if that is the case then I’m with you, no thanks.
Isn't crony capitalism wonderful?
And, as usual, I'm left wondering what info the leakers are sitting on.