Fukushima Reactor Flaws Were Predicted – 35 Years Ago

  • Share
  • Read Later


The failings of the Fukushima nuclear reactor were so substantial that three General Electric scientists who helped design the now imperiled reactors resigned from the company.

Dale Bridenbaugh helped assess the design of the Mark 1 nuclear reactor upon its creation back in 1975. His findings portray an extreme lack of confidence in the reactor’s ability to contain pressure in case of a meltdown. Bridenbaugh and two engineering colleagues couldn’t handle the pressure themselves, leading them to drop out of the project and resign their positions with the company.

(More on TIME.com: See photos of Fukushima on the brink of meltdown)

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant contains six total reactors, five of which are Mark 1s. And the problem the reactors are facing – a loss of power, leading to cooling uranium rods and rising pressure inside the core – is precisely the issue that drove Bridenbaugh’s resignation from General Electric. The reactors “did not take into account the dynamic loads that could be experienced with a loss of coolant,” Bridenbaugh told ABC News.

GE says the problems were rectified in the early 80s, but it may be weeks before the full extent of the quake damage to the reactors is determined.

In a distinct (though not entirely unexpected) change of heart, Bridenbaugh and his colleagues, after leaving GE, went to work for an antinuke campaign. (via ABC News)

(More on TIME.com: See how to stop a nuclear meltdown)