I am an American who engineered a score of nuclear power plants, nine of the Fukushima type, the Mark I. If this article (Jan. 3, “Fukushima meltdowns set nuclear energy debate on its ear“)reflects Japanese thinking, it is a tragedy.
Japan’s government and the utility company committed incredibly stupid acts. They violated basic safety needs, from what has been reported. Most people know little about radiation and the complex technologies related to nuclear power, but they know automobiles. No one would ever buy a car without brakes. If the car began to burn in an accident, you would open the door and quickly escape; you would not continue to sit in the car. This is essentially what occurred at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
An historic earthquake and tsunami hit the Japanese coast, causing hideous suffering. Yet the nuclear structures did not fall. A tsunami washed over the plant and drowned vital electrical equipment in the basement. Without electricity, a nuclear plant will blow up within hours. The equipment should never have been placed in a low place; electrical gear should be on high ground if flooding is possible. I know the drawings that were used — cheap designs by Americans ignorant of flood action.
When the reactors lost power, an armada of support ships should have been sent at high speed to anchor offshore. One ship’s generator might have saved everything. It took many days to restore electricity to the plant due to the high level of sloth, ignorance and concern about spending small money.
Workers suffered under very difficult conditions for 100 hours a week, but were required to sleep in small chairs or on the floor. Why? How long can you work without a good sleep?
Why are the reactors’ spent-fuel pools crammed with dangerous materials that require water pumps? Most of it should be stored like bricks — in graves — after it cools down in a few years.
The problem in this nuclear crisis is not from fancy gamma rays, but from lethally incompetent leaders. Japan should keep nuclear power and put competent engineers in charge of it.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.