Thursday, January 26, 2012

FrontLine's Nuclear Aftershocks program

The following comments were sent to FrontLine's editors.

I would like to compliment FrontLine on the generally excellent show Nuclear Aftershocks on the Fukushima Daiichi accident and nuclear power generation in general. But, I would also like to point out a glaring error in your report and comment on several important pieces of information that should have been included. I would also be interested in a phone chat with a FrontLine editor once you receive and review my publication Fukushima Daiichi: Nuclear Information Handbook.

• The incorrect information: The source term (total radiation release) from the accident was much greater than 10% of the Chernobyl release. Even TEPCO acknowledges a release of 50% or higher. In the Nuclear Information Handbook the model of release estimates is too high given the rapid and successful cooling of the seven multiple interlocking meltdown events (MIME) since the publication of the book in June. Given that ±4,400 fuel assemblies were involved in these 7 accidents and the huge quantity of radioactive water released by the successful cooling efforts, the source term will at least equal and probably exceed that of the Chernobyl accident.
• Several important facts not included in the report:
o Luckily, prevailing winds brought ±90% of airborne emissions over the Pacific Ocean. Why were no graphics, which are readily available online, included to illustrate the “luck of the Irish”, i.e. that most fallout went in the direction of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?
o While interviewing David Lockbaum, why were his observations, reported in detail in the New York Times, on the design flaws of these ancient General Electric (GE) design boiling water reactors not reported? In particular, there was no mention of the important design flaw of the location of the spent fuel pool adjacent to and slightly above the reactor vessel. You showed graphic images of the destruction of the spent fuel pools without mentioning the location or pointing out that the largest radiation release occurred when the spent fuel pool of unit 4 (which had no fuel in its reactor vessel) exploded.
o Why no mention of the Plymouth, MA and VT Yankee reactors and 33 other US reactors with similar extraordinary design flaws, both of which put residents of the Boston area at a greater risk of a similar accident, which might occur from causes other than a tsunami?
Thank you for an otherwise excellent report. The time limitations of your program obviously are a problem. Is there any chance you might do another FrontLine special on the design flaws of GE sponsored boiling water reactors, not to mention the safety issues of over 100 aging nuclear reactors operating for another 20 years?