— The Erimtan Angle —

The intrepid Mister Palast spins his tale like this: “On March 12 [2011], as I watched Fukushima melt, I knew: the “SQ” had been faked. Anderson Cooper said it would all be OK.  He’d flown to Japan, to suck up the radiation and official company bullshit. The horror show was not the fault of Tokyo Electric, he said, because the plant was built to withstand only an 8.0 earthquake on the Richter scale, and this was 9.0. Anderson must have been in the gym when they handed out the facts. The 9.0 shake was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 90 miles away. It was barely a tenth of that power at Fukushima. I was ready to vomit. Because I knew who had designed the plant, who had built it and whom Tokyo Electric Power was having rebuild it: Shaw Construction. The latest alias of Stone & Webster, the designated builder for every one of the four new nuclear plants that the Obama Administration has approved for billions in federal studies. But I had The Notebook, the diaries of the earthquake inspector for the company. I’d squirreled it out sometime before the TradeCenter [where the documents were kept] went down. I shouldn’t have done that. Too bad. All field engineers keep a diary. Gordon Dick, a supervisor, wasn’t sup- posed to show his to us. I asked him to show it to us and, reluctantly, he directed me to these notes about the “SQ” tests”.[1]

And in his inimical style, Palast enlightens us next: “SQ is nuclear-speak for “Seismic Qualification.” A seismically qualified nuclear plant won’t melt down if you shake it. A “seismic event” can be an earthquake or a Christmas present from Al Qaeda. You can’t run a nuclear reactor in the USA or Europe or Japan without certified SQ. This much is clear from [Gordon Dick’s] notebook: This nuclear plant will melt down in an earthquake. The plant dismally failed to meet the Seismic I (shaking) standards required by U.S. and international rules”.[2]  Fukushima was a disaster waiting to happen . . . and now four nuclear plants of the same type are set to be built in the U.S. Palast continues, “Here’s what we learned: Dick’s subordinate at the nuclear plant, Robert Wiesel, conducted the standard seismic review. Wiesel flunked his company. No good. Dick then ordered Wiesel to change his report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, change it from failed to passed. Dick didn’t want to make Wiesel do it, but Dick was under the gun himself, acting on direct command from corporate chiefs. From The Notebook: ‘Wiesel was very upset. He seemed very nervous. Very agitated. [He said,] “I believe these are bad results and I believe it’s reportable,” and then he took the volume of federal regulations from the shelf and went to section 50.55(e), which describes reportable deficiencies at a nuclear plant and [they] read the section together, with Wiesel pointing to the appropriate paragraphs that federal law clearly required [them and the company] to report the Category II, Seismic I deficiencies. Wiesel then expressed his concern that he was afraid that if he [Wiesel] reported the deficiencies, he would be fired, but that if he didn’t report the deficiencies, he would be breaking a federal law’. . . . [Palast then goes on: ] The law is clear. It is a crime not to report a safety failure. I could imagine Wiesel standing there with that big, thick rule book in his hands, The Law. It must have been heavy. So was his paycheck. He weighed the choices: Break the law, possibly a jail-time crime, or keep his job”.[3]  What did Bob Wiesel do???

Palast ends his piece on Fukushima and SQ thus: “I think we should all worry about Bob. The company he worked for, Stone & Webster Engineering, built or designed about a third of the nuclear plants in the United States”.[4]  The good folks at Wikipedia tell us that ‘Stone & Webster is an American engineering services company based in Stoughton, Massachusetts. Stone & Webster was founded as an electrical testing lab and consulting firm by electrical engineers Charles Stone and Edwin Webster in 1889. It was acquired by The Shaw Group in 2000. The company provides engineering, construction, environmental services, and plant operation and maintenance. The company has long been involved in power generation projects and has worked on most American nuclear power plants’.[5]  Not content with simply endangering the world with unsafe nuclear power plants, The Shaw Group recently proudly announced that ‘it has achieved substantial completion of the new Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center, a 585-megawatt clean coal-fired generating plant in Virginia for Dominion Virginia Power. As part of substantial completion, the plant was operated at its rated capacity and released to Dominion for commercial operation’.[6]  Nuclear energy is an unsafe method of boiling water, given that the nuclear waste material will have to be safely deposited . . . which seems like a contradiction in terms. At the same time, the company is also busy purveying other means to boil water using “clean coal”, a fuel that has been proven not to exist.


[1] Greg Palast, “The Fukushima story you didn’t hear on CNN” Greg Palast (08 March 2012). http://www.gregpalast.com/the-fukushima-story-you-didnt-hear-on-cnn/.

[2] Greg Palast, “The Fukushima story you didn’t hear on CNN”.

[3] Greg Palast, “The Fukushima story you didn’t hear on CNN”.

[4] Greg Palast, “The Fukushima story you didn’t hear on CNN”.

[5] “Stone & Webster” Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_%26_Webster.

[6] “Shaw Completes New 585-MW Clean Coal-fired Generating Plant in Virginia” News Release (12 July 2012). http://ir.shawgrp.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=61066&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1714193&highlight=.


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