Greg Palast is an occasional reporter for Newsnight on BBC2. Back in 1988, however, he was directing a U.S. investigation into the nuclear power plant builder Long Island Lightning Company (LILCO). In an article posted today on his own website, Palast says the failure of the emergency systems on the Japanese reactors came as no surprise to him:
“Here are the facts about Tokyo Electric and the industry you haven’t heard on CNN:
The failure of emergency systems at Japan’s nuclear plants comes as no surprise to those of us who have worked in the field.
Nuclear plants the world over must be certified for what is called “SQ” or “Seismic Qualification.” That is, the owners swear that all components are designed for the maximum conceivable shaking event, be it from an earthquake or an exploding Christmas card from Al Qaeda.
The most inexpensive way to meet your SQ is to lie. The industry does it all the time. The government team I worked with caught them once, in 1988, at the Shoreham plant in New York. Correcting the SQ problem at Shoreham would have cost a cool billion, so engineers were told to change the tests from ‘failed’ to ‘passed.'”