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Former GE Engineer Quit Over Japan Nuclear Reactor Design

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Reuters is reporting that former General Electric engineer Dale Bridenbaugh quit his job 35 years ago because the "Mark 1" nuclear reactor design -- the one on the verge of a full meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant -- had 'not yet been designed to withstand the loads' that could be experienced in a large-scale accident."

Bridenbaugh said:

"At the time, I didn't think the utilities were taking things seriously enough. I felt some of the plants should have been shut down while the analysis was completed, and GE and the utilities didn't want to do that, so I left."

However, Bridenbaugh added that he believes the "the design flaws he had identified were addressed at the Daiichi plant," though they were done so at what he describes as "a fairly significant expense."

GE is firing back that the Mark 1 has had "40 years of safe operations" and that it responded to a 1980 "generic industry order assessing the Mark 1 containment" by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by "issuing it to all our customers."

Bridenbaugh, who now runs a safety advisory firm, has a thoughtful perspective on what's happening:

"I feel sorry for the guys over there trying to handle that thing. On the other hand you can't say the Fukushima situation is a direct result of the Mark 1 containment. It is a direct result of the earthquake, tsunami and the fact the Mark 1 containment is less forgiving than some of the other reactor versions."
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.