www.fronte.org nuclear energy safety      


Comments by T. Fronte
        Fukushima BWR General Electric                
      FUKUSHIMA. Spray and Pray                          


    Fukushima emergency cooling system   Fukushima graffiti

nuclear preparedness






        Spray and pray         Adverse preparedness              

The Japanese Fukushima nuclear plant has been crippled by a string of events ; few days after the 11th March 2011 earthquake , its situation collapsed conspicuously with several explosions blowing the equipment around the reactors; the electrical lines and the water loops of the badly damaged emergency cooling system (ECS) were urgently replaced by anti-riot water trucks or mobile cranes for concrete pumps, in the attempt to spray the reactor containments and the spent fuel pools; the lower parts of the buildings were flooded with a huge amount of highly radioactive coolant which flowed to the sea or evaporated in open air.

The emergency cooling of the reactors became a crude “spray and pray” operation.

The workers have braved staggering perils to avert a far worse disaster ; their health and their life was compromised and they certainly deserve enduring respect . Nevertheless the heroic stand is not enough in face of nuclear plants out of control, involving long term contamination with untold damages and victims . The Fukushima accident, initially rated as five on the INES scale, has topped to level seven , the same as Chernobyl .


In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, Governments have committed to assess their nuclear safety and “preparedness”. But will the implementation of the rules and regulations be addressed ? Stringent obligations should be enforced all the way through the design, the manufacturing and the operation of nuclear plants ; some obligations are costly and their violation carries enticing profits or is key in a free market competition ; therefore there is a widespread “adverse preparedness” which contrasts investigations, protects nefarious practices, promotes hype and propaganda .

In the Fronte-AREVA case the “adverse preparedness” is supported or tolerated by Administrations, Regulators and public Organisations. In this case, as part of my job, I had to evaluate services and equipment designed to the highest nuclear standards (ASME III class 1, AEIA 50 CQA …) ; as I refused to play down incidents and damning safety gaps , I was fired; my claims have been dismissed and , among others, the French Criminal Division of the Supreme Court of Appeal ( Cour de Cassation) has decided four rulings, all of them against me . This case of “adverse preparedness” illustrates how safety rules are deliberately violated as long as incidents may be covered up, thus putting first profits in contempt of risks.

When the time and the location of a possible disaster are remotely uncertain , the ”adverse preparedness” help get profit out of the uncertainty ; should an accident occur , the reactions are too little too late, like the “spray and pray “ cooling operations in Fukushima .