* Engineer left GE in 1976, concerned about reactor design
* Believes design flaws at Daiichi plant addressed
* GE says technology has had 40 years safe operations
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A General Electric Co
engineer said he resigned 35 years ago over concern about the
safety of a nuclear reactor design used in the now crippled
Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan.
Dale Bridenbaugh said the "Mark 1" design had "not yet been
designed to withstand the loads" that could be experienced in a
"At the time, I didn't think the utilities were taking
things seriously enough," Bridenbaugh, now retired, said in a
phone interview. "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."
Bridenbaugh said that to the best of his knowledge, the
design flaws he had identified were addressed at the Daiichi
plant, requiring "a fairly significant expense."
The Aptos, California, resident spoke earlier with ABC
News, a unit of Walt Disney Co.
GE in a statement said it has had "40 years of safe
operations" of its boiling water reactor Mark 1 technology.
"In 1980 the (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) issued a
generic industry order assessing the Mark 1 containment," the
Fairfield, Connecticut-based company added. "We responded to
this order and issued it to all of our customers."
Following last Friday's 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, the
Daiichi plant has suffered several explosions, and is now
sending radiation wafting into Tokyo, 150 miles (240 km) to the
south. Authorities are trying to prevent a full meltdown.
Bridenbaugh said that after leaving GE he started a firm to
advise state governments on safety issues. Like many, he said
he is watching closely as events unfold in Japan.
"I feel sorry for the guys over there trying to handle that
thing," he said. "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
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel and Lewis Krauskopf in New
York; Editing by Gary Hill)
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