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UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS UPDATE ON JAPAN'S NUCLEAR POWER CRISIS TELEPRESS CONFERENCE
MARCH 19, 2011 11:00 A.M. P R O C E E D I N G S

OPERATOR: Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Japan Nuclear Reactor Update. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode, but later today, we will conduct a question-and-answer session, and instructions will follow at that time. If you should require assistance during today's conference, you may press star, then zero on your touchtone telephone to speak to an operator. Also, as a reminder, this conference call is being recorded. Now, I would like to introduce our host for today's conference, Elliott Negin.

MR. NEGIN: Thank you, Daniel. Good morning. I'm Elliott Negin. I'm the Media Director here at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Thanks for joining our call this morning. Just to remind you, the Union of Concerned Scientists is an independent, science-based advocacy group that has been a nuclear industry watchdog for 40 years. We are not for or against nuclear power. Our goal has always been to ensure that the industry operates in the safest manner possible. Because it's the weekend and we've been working for more than a week without a break, we are going to take some time off. So, we will not be able to reply to your media requests beyond the questions you ask during this briefing this morning and the briefing tomorrow morning. On Monday, we will resume handling your requests, which you should mail to media@ucsusa.org. Please do not contact our experts directly. They have been overwhelmed with requests for interviews. And if you have any trouble getting down everything you need from today's briefing, there will be a transcript and an audio file on our website later today. After our speakers are done this morning and we open up the phone to your questions, please ask only one question and, if necessary, one follow-up. And, please, mute your phone after you ask your question; otherwise, the sound of your typing will make it difficult for everyone else to hear. Now, we had originally scheduled Ed Lyman for this morning, but unfortunately, he had a scheduling conflict. Ed will join us tomorrow. This morning, our speakers are David Lochbaum, who will update us on the latest developments in Japan, and Ellen Vancko, who will talk about the implications of this disaster for U.S. nuclear power policy. We will then open up the phone for questions. David Lochbaum is the Director of UCS's Nuclear Safety Project. He is a nuclear engineer by training, and he worked at U.S. nuclear plants for 17 years. He also has worked as a safety trainer for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Ellen Vancko is UCS's Nuclear Energy and Climate Change Project Manager. Before joining UCS, she worked in the electric utility industry for more than 25 years. I will now turn the phone over to David Lochbaum.

MR. LOCHBAUM: Good morning. The temporary electric power cable has been installed to power cooling systems for the spent fuel pool and reactor cores on Units 1 and 2, but those connections have been slowed by the need to shield this power equipment from the water spraying and dumping operations on adjacent units. Once power is restored, workers will check to see if cooling pumps, piping, and controls remain functional after the combined effects of the earthquake, tsunami, and the hydrogen explosions. Reports of high radiation levels around Unit 3 continue. Some reports indicate that a U.S. nuclear worker would receive the annual permissible dose in less than an hour. The high radiation levels continue to limit the workers' access to structures. Limited access prevents workers from evaluating the extent of damage caused to date and to determine what systems or parts of systems can be returned to service to mitigate the problem. Fire trucks are continuing to spray water into the upper floors of the damaged reactor building to refill the Unit 3 spent fuel pool. The Unit 3 spent fuel pool seems to be the source of the high radiation levels. The Unit 4 spent fuel pool has reports of water in it, but the latest indications are that the water level in the pool is low, lower than necessary. There were reports yesterday of a possible breach in the Unit 4 spent fuel pool. Water can leak from the pool from evaporation or boil-off. Water can also simply drain out of the pool. The spent fuel pools are large swimming pools but with one key difference: One side of the spent fuel pool has a large door that's about 20 feet tall and about three feet wide. This door, also called a gate, is removed during refuelling to allow spent fuel to be transferred underwater from the reactor core into the spent fuel pool and to allow fresh fuel to be transferred from the spent fuel pool back into the reactor core. We understand that these doors, also called gates, have been installed. When installed, there's a bicycle inner tube-like device that goes around each side and bottom of the gate where it connects with the spent fuel pool wall. The loss of power following the earthquake and tsunami meant that there was no air flowing to these inflatable seals. When inflated, these seals provide a leak-tight fit between the gate and the spent fuel pool wall so leakage does not occur. When deflated, water could be leaking past the edges of the gate out of the spent fuel pool, so that any make-up water would have to replenish the boil-off, the evaporation, and any leakage through this and other pathways. The primary problem on Unit 4 is the spent fuel pool and the need to get water back into it and restore cooling. We have heard reports, confirmed reports, that diesel generators have been connected and are now providing power for the Unit 5 and Unit 6 spent fuel pools. The cooling of those pools had been lost for a while and the temperature of the water inside the pools had been rising, but it appears that cooling was restored before those pools got into distress. I appreciate that. That's the extent of the update I have for today. MR. NEGIN: Thank you, David. Our next speaker is Ellen Vancko.

MS. VANCKO: Thank you, Elliott. While everyone seems to want to talk about the industry's future, we believe it's much more important to stay focused on the industry's present. With Japan’s nuclear disaster still unfolding, we still have many lessons to learn, but a few things are abundantly clear. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission must review the safety of U.S. nuclear plants and ensure that existing rules and regulations are stringently enforced. They must also ensure that any new reactors are significantly safer than existing ones. Forthcoming NRC regulations that will require reactor owners to integrate security measures into reactor designs should specify that the NRC, not reactor owners, will determine which measures meet that criterion. We should also remember that the nuclear industry's future in the United States was in trouble long before Japan's earthquake and tsunami. Spiraling construction cost estimates, declining energy demands, the low cost of natural gas, and the government's failure to place a price on carbon already threatened the industry's future. New nuclear reactors are extremely expensive compared with many other low-carbon alternatives, such as energy efficiency, natural gas, cost-effective wind power, and other renewable energy technologies. We all know it is impossible to fully plan for natural disasters, but we can at least put in place all practical mechanisms to protect our citizens and our environment from known hazards. Utilities and first-responders are not yet prepared to respond to a combination of destructive events, man-made or natural, that could damage critical infrastructure and precipitate a nuclear accident. Adding more safety features to nuclear reactors can be expected to make nuclear power more expensive. So will improving our emergency preparedness compared with other low-carbon alternatives that do not carry the same risks. We all will have to decide, at the end of the day, once the lessons are learned, how much safety we want to pay for. Thank you.

MR. NEGIN: Thank you. Daniel will now open up the queue to questions.

OPERATOR: Certainly. Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to ask a question at this time, please press the star and then the number one key on your touchtone telephone. If your question is later answered or you wish to remove yourself from the queue for any reason, you may press the pound key to do so. Once again, to ask a question, please press star, then one. Our first question comes from the line of REPORTER.

REPORTER: Hi. Thank you very much for having this presser, and this is

REPORTER And I wanted to ask about the recent reports by the EPA that said that there is no harmful levels of radiation coming -- that have been detected so far in the United States coming from Fukushima. What's your response to that? Are there levels that can be deemed safe, or also, the problem of this is just the beginning, so we don't know what's going to happen yet? How would you respond to those?

MR. LOCHBAUM: This is Dave Lochbaum. From the reports we've seen to date, we think the EPA's statement's correct, we have no reason to believe that it's not. But I think, as your question alludes, the official government position is that there's no safe level of radiation; however, you can't eliminate all sources of radiation. It occurs in the ground; it occurs in other places. So, the EPA, the NRC, and others have established federal limits on what can be put into the environment from nuclear power plants and other generators of radiation. EPA's statement says that while we're detecting radiation in our West Coast facilities, it's not above those EPA limits on groundwater and other ways that radiation get into the human body. That basically means that the radiation's been detected, but it's not above the federal limits that have been established for safe exposures -- or not excessively unsafe exposures to radiation. And as far as the second part of that question, unless things tremendously worsen from where they are today, it's unlikely that that would change for the United States, including Hawaii. We're going to detect radiation emitted from that plant, but it's unlikely to rise to levels that exceed EPA and NRC limits in the States.

REPORTER: Thank you very much.

OPERATOR: Our next question comes from the line of REPORTER.

REPORTER: Good morning, folks, and thank you for having this. Dave, could you give us a little bit of detail on what’s you think the most crucial prioritization for the cooling systems that they will try to restore first tomorrow?

MR. LOCHBAUM: I think the primary problem is the high radiation levels caused by partially exposed fuel in the Unit 3 and possibly the Unit 4 spent fuel pool. They need to get water back into those areas to reduce the radiation levels and also provide cooling of the irradiated fuel in those two locations. By reducing the radiation levels, workers will be able to move throughout the facility more freely in order to do mitigative measures for the three reactor cores on Units 1, 2, and 3, and reinforce the fuel pools on Units 1, 2, 3, and 4. It seems like workers have already successfully dealt with and regained control of the cooling in Units 5 and 6 spent fuel pools. So, I think that would be their triage system, to recover the pools in 3 and 4, reduce the radiation levels so that the workers have more options in restoring cooling on the three reactor cores and the four spent fuel pools that are at issue right now.

REPORTER: Just to follow up quickly, once they are able to do that, which cooling systems in the reactor will be prioritized?

MR. LOCHBAUM: I think that's hard to say from our standpoint, because first of all, they need to walk through the building and evaluate what has been damaged by the earthquake, the tsunami -- well, the tsunami shouldn't have damaged equipment inside the building, but the hydrogen explosion could have damaged, you know, piping, control cables, power cables, et cetera. So, they're going to have to do a damage assessment to figure out what assets they have, what assets have been damaged but can be rapidly repaired, and what assets are gone and they need to fill in with alternatives. I don't know that they've had time yet or the ability yet to go through and do that damage assessment, to figure out what they've got and what they need to supplement. So, I haven't seen that information yet to be able to forecast what they have, what they don't have, and what they need to bring in place to supplement.

REPORTER: Thank you.

MR. NEGIN: Next question, please.

OPERATOR: Our next question comes from the line of REPORTER.

REPORTER: Hello. Thank you so much for having this briefing. The question that I have is these Generation III and Generation III-Plus reactors, I understand there are some of those in operation in Japan. Do you happen to know which ones they are and if they fared better than Fukushima in the tsunami?

MR. LOCHBAUM: This is Dave Lochbaum. That's also my understanding, they have some of the advanced reactor designs, but I pretty much focus on U.S. plants unless something attracts my attention elsewhere, and I really don't know the answer to that question. I'm sorry. I apologize. I just don't know where they are and what they faced.

REPORTER: That's okay. Can I ask you what your view is on these reactors that have the more advanced designs and if -- I guess the gravity used in cooling, the passive systems, are they, in general, more resilient in cases like this natural disaster?

MR. LOCHBAUM: Well, the new reactors do have features like passive safety systems that give workers more time to deal with situations, and most often, more time translates into greater success of meeting a challenge, given the odds.

REPORTER: Um-hum.

MR. LOCHBAUM: But there are even conditions and bounds on that passive safety system. For example, the AP1000, the Westinghouse new design -- REPORTER: Yeah. MR.

LOCHBAUM: -- it has a large water tank that gravity can be used to move that water from the large tank to cool the reactor if the normal cooling system is lost. The capacity of that tank is only for 72 hours. If you have an event such as this one that doesn't conform to those assumptions, much longer than 72 hours, then you have the same problem --

REPORTER: Right.

MR. LOCHBAUM: -- of how do you get water back up into the tank to replenish it? Had that reactor been at the site where today's disaster is occurring, the 72 hours wouldn't have been enough. Would workers have been able to replenish the tank at the 73rd hour or before the 72 hours passed, as they were unable to replenish the batteries when they were exhausted in eight hours. So, I'm not sure that the time lines would have been long enough to allow the workers to deal with what they faced. They would have had more time, but perhaps still not enough time.

REPORTER: Understood. Thank you so much.

MR. LOCHBAUM: Um-hum.

OPERATOR: Our next question comes from the line of REPORTER.

REPORTER: Hello. Thanks for having this. I wonder if you could talk about this -- the meeting yesterday on the Hill with Senate staffers and Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials there, and the sense that I got from the meeting was that they were sort of pleased with -- or maybe not pleased with, but their position was that current regulations in the U.S. are pretty conservative, they're more conservative than Japan's, and that they -- you know, I mean, I wonder if you could just comment on that idea and, if possible, be specific about a couple places where you think you see improvement in the regulations or better enforcement.

MR. LOCHBAUM: I think that's a natural reaction. Had this disaster occurred at, like, the Turkey Point Plant in Florida, it's likely officials in Japan would have made the same statements yesterday about how their regulations are much better than those in the United States. It's a very easy, lame excuse to put forward that can't be backed up by the facts. If you look at Japan, they have much stricter regulations than we do. For example, in this country, we allow a lot of wear and tear of equipment. Piping can be cracked, as long as the cracks aren't too deep or too long; other equipment can be damaged or degraded, as long as safety margins aren't compromised. In Japan, if you see an indication of a crack, that pipe is replaced right then. They try to maintain the plant in pristine condition, even though that means you replace equipment perhaps more conservatively than you really would need to in the United States. So, it's a little bit unfair for us to say that Japan has weaker regulations or lower regulations. They just had worse luck than we did. In some sense, the reactors’ designs are similar, the regulations are similar. If faced with a similar challenge, it's unlikely that our reactors would come out any differently. We would have the same response. Unfortunately, they were faced with a challenge and came up empty. Our reactors haven't been tested to that degree and, therefore, haven't had a chance to come up empty yet.

REPORTER: Thanks. And I should clarify, I guess, I -- you know, it's hard to know without being in the room what they said. They may have simply been saying that Japan -- that our reactors are -- our regulations are conservative enough to account for something like what happened in Japan, rather than, you know, comparing them directly to Japan's regulations.

MR. LOCHBAUM: Sure. I think that's -- again, I don't know what they said, but Japan's reactors were designed to endure a power outage lasting eight hours. The actual power outage lasted longer than that. Because they weren't designed for what they actually faced, they're in very severe jeopardy. Our reactors or most of our reactors, 93 of the 104 reactors in the United States, are only designed for power outages lasting four hours. Eleven reactors are designed for power outages lasting for eight hours. So, if one of our reactors were to be faced with a power outage lasting longer than four or eight hours, we would be in similar jeopardy. So, all reactors have hazards, all reactor situations get very bad if the designs and the procedures don't adequately deal with those hazards. Japan is showing that. We need to revisit our design and procedures so that our reactors become less vulnerable and are protected by actual design features rather than excuses.

MS. VANCKO: The only thing I would add to that -- and this is Ellen Vancko -- is it is definitely premature to say anything about what happened in Japan can't happen here. The Russians came to Three Mile Island and said that that couldn't happen there. The Japanese went to Chernobyl and said that that wouldn't happen there. We don't want to be in the same position of going to Japan and saying that couldn't happen here, because the track record on those statements isn't particularly good. MR. NEGIN: Next question, please.

OPERATOR: Our next question comes from the line of REPORTER.

REPORTER: I sure do appreciate your putting on this. I know you guys are exhausted. Question, David, for you on your briefing at the beginning. You mentioned a problem with sealants in the spent fuel pool. I was interested in whether that's a problem also at the Browns Ferry reactors and if you could elaborate a little bit on the nature of the problem.

MR. LOCHBAUM: Hello. Yes, the Browns Ferry reactors, like the reactors in Japan, are vulnerable to that situation. It actually happened back in 1986 at the Hatch nuclear plant in Georgia, which is very similar to the Browns Ferry plant and very similar to the Japanese reactors. The scenario was that you have this concrete gate that has a metal surface on one side that slides into the spent fuel pool wall to isolate the spent fuel pool from the reactor when the reactor is operating. The area above the reactor is drained of water; concrete plugs are put in place for shielding. During refueling, that gate is removed to allow that combined water volume of the spent fuel pool and the area above the reactor vessel to be connected to allow fuel to be transferred back and forth underwater between those two areas. The gate is just a piece of concrete and a piece of metal that gets inserted into a concrete and metal wall. The surfaces, when those two pieces come together, are not leak-tight, and to make them so, there's a rubber gasket that surrounds the sides and the bottom of the gate. That rubber gasket looks like a bicycle inner tube and is filled with air to fill the space between the gate and the wall so that water can't leak out from the pool into the area on the other side. The air compressor that supplies air to that seal is powered only from the electrical grid. It doesn't receive power from the emergency diesel generators or the batteries. So, when the earthquake occurred, it took out the electrical grid, the air compressors for that seal were lost. That seal stopped getting air. It doesn't mean it immediately deflates, but as that seal slowly leaks over time, the air leaks out of the seal, it becomes less and less effective at closing the gap between the gate and the pool walls. At the Hatch plant, it took, I think, about four or five hours for the inflatable seal to deflate, and 141,000 gallons of water, about half of the water of the spent fuel pool, leaked out through that little gap between the gate and the walls. At that time, it was discovered at Hatch before the fuel heated up and was exposed to any kind of damage, but when you lose half of the water in the spent fuel pool, it takes less time for the heat from an uncooled pool to boil off the remaining water.

Also, in the situation we're dealing with now, if that has happened in Japan, as they spray water in or dump water onto the spent fuel pool, that make-up rate has to exceed the amount that's leaking out through that gap in the gate. So, if it's occurring in Japan, it's complicating an already complicated situation.

Does that address your question?

REPORTER: Yeah, it sure does, and one follow-up.

MR. LOCHBAUM: Sure.

REPORTER: I guess there was a question about how the risk assessments are done here in the United States. In the Tennessee Valley, we have dams along the river that are I think in excess of 70 years old, or over 50 years old, and are external factors like that considered and are they considered adequately in determining the impact of earthquakes and what design rating is necessary for an earthquake?

MR. LOCHBAUM: I have a partial answer to that question. I haven't looked at the analysis for Browns Ferry for -- if the upstream dam were to fail, but there was some work recently done for the proposed new reactors at the Bellefonte facility up near Scottsboro, Alabama, and in that case, TVA had looked at the risk of a single dam failing due to earthquakes or just aging or any mechanism.

The criticism that was done of that recent risk analysis was that the dams along the Tennessee River are fairly close together, and if one dam were to fail, there's a large freed-up volume of water that could go downstream and challenge the integrity of the next dam downstream, such that you could get a cascading series of two or more hydroelectric dam failures.

That unanswered question of, you know, could that really happen, have we properly analyzed the risk, the last time I checked a few weeks ago or a few months ago, it was still being discussed or debated. So, I don't know how it will come out. So, the risk has been looked at. There are some questions about whether that risk is realistic or not, and I think the debate still needs to be resolved.

REPORTER: Thank you very much.

MR. NEGIN: Daniel, any other questions?

OPERATOR: We do have one more question on the line of REPORTER.

REPORTER: Yes, hi.

When you were talking about the reactors' design for power just lasting four hours with their battery backup, our two plants in Nebraska, I think, have diesel systems, too, redundant systems that can last a total of seven days, with the fuel on-site and buried, and then the backup batteries. Are you taking diesel off the table when you talk about backup electricity, and if so, what would be the reason for that?

Thank you.

MR. LOCHBAUM: Hello. Yeah, this is Dave Lochbaum.

The NRC's analysis on battery capacity assumes that the electrical grid power has been lost and the diesel generator power has been lost, also, so that the only source of power you have left are the batteries.

There are a number of ways that the diesel generator power can be lost. We've actually had that event occur already in the United States, at the Vogel plant in Georgia, in March of -- I think it was March 9th of 1990. There was a -- one of their own power trucks backed into a transmission pole in a switch yard and knocked out the electrical grid.

The emergency diesel generator started, as it was supposed to do in that situation, but it failed right away due to a faulty switch, and the plant -- I think it took about an hour for the workers to fix the faulty switch to get the diesel generators back. So, I think in that case, the battery capacity was fine for the loss of both the grid and the diesel generators.

More recently, in June of 1998, a tornado struck the Davis-Besse Plant outside of Toledo, Ohio, and knocked down the transmission lines, just crumpled them up like a giant pile of sticks. The diesel generators started and were providing power to safety equipment, as designed.

About 26 hours after the tornado hit, because it was June, the outside temperature was, like, 93 degrees, 90-plus degrees. The diesel generator rooms overheated, you know, a large engine in a small room. The temperature inside that room rose high enough that the diesel generator controls were overheated and failed.

Fortunately, the power from the electrical grid had been restored 25 hours after the tornado. So, there was one hour overlap. Had that not been the case, then you would have been relying on your battery capacity for the safety of Davis-Besse.

So, we have had incidents that tempted us, but so far, we haven't had a situation as bad as Japan. But I think one of the lessons learned will -- you know, is four hours or eight hours battery capacity is enough? Do we have events that could challenge us longer than that and leave us in the same jeopardy that Japan faced?

REPORTER: All right. Thank you.

MR. NEGIN: Daniel, any other questions?

OPERATOR: Another question from the line of REPORTER.

REPORTER: Thanks again for doing this.

My question concerns power plants in the U.S. that are near metro areas, and just imagining that we did have some radiological event at one of these facilities, comparable or not to what's happened in Japan, can you speak to the likelihood that there would be an evacuation, and logistically, how well we would be able to respond to that in a populated area?

MR. LOCHBAUM: Well, I think the likelihood is the same. Again, the reactor designs are similar, the protective barriers are similar, procedures are similar. So, if we were faced with a challenge, maybe not the exact combo of earthquake and tsunami, but if something puts one of our plants in that kind of jeopardy, we are just as likely to have a release as they are.

The one thing we do in this country in case -- or for protection against that outcome is that every two years, by federal regulation, the emergency procedures or the emergency response for each nuclear plant in the United States has to be tested. The NRC comes in and evaluates how well the plant owner is able to deal with a simulated or postulated event, and FEMA comes in to evaluate how well the local, state, and federal responders are for dealing with situations outside the plant's fences.

Those exercises are very good to train on various people's roles and responsibilities during those events; very important questions about who has the resources, whose authority it is to deploy those resources, all get played out; and people's understandings may come to a common understanding of what happens and who authorizes it.

The one shortfall, we think, that exists in those emergency exercises is that we never actually move people. We assume that when the call goes out for people to either shelter or evacuate, that people will be sheltered or evacuated. Past real events in the United States have shown that when people feel they're in trouble, if they have a car, they are going to get in a car and head out. So, the authorities recommending that people shelter until the radioactive cloud goes by may just not be heeded by people.

Our emergency plans also assume that we're going to evacuate in a very orderly fashion, by sectors; that people closest to the plant will leave first, then the people five miles out from the plant will leave second, and so on. In the event of a real tragedy, like the one that's going on in Japan, the people five and ten miles out may get in their cars as soon as they see it on TV or hear about it on radio and clog the roads, slowing the evacuation time for the people close in.

So, on computer studies, we have these nice, neat plans that people get out of harm's way before the radioactive cloud arrives, but when that day arrives, things may not go according to that nicely scripted plan, and we may be in trouble.

Having said that, I don't know how else you do it. You don't really want to evacuate a hundred thousand people just to show that your paper plan works. I think you have to do the best you can and hope that things work close to that plan should that bad day arrive.

REPORTER: And if I could just tack one thing on to that, given the message that the NRC made about the 50-mile radius in Japan, has that prompted any rethinking of exactly whether we need to expand our radius here, domestically? And does that raise any particular logistical concerns for these plants that are close to metro areas?

MR. LOCHBAUM: It's a very good question. When we heard the NRC Chairman say that, we were somewhat surprised. We think it does set a prec -- because essentially, we didn't think that would happen in the United States. So, we need to go back and ask, you know, does that mean that that would be the recommendation in the United States?

If so, our existing planning probably isn't enough, and we need to go back to shore it up to make sure we can actually do what the NRC Chairman suggested we do. So, I think that's an unanswered question and a policy issue we need to look at and see how it gets resolved in the hopefully near term.

REPORTER: Thanks very much.

OPERATOR: Our next question comes from the line of REPORTER.

REPORTER: Thank you very much.

David, given your comments on how the Japanese like to keep things in pristine condition, are you optimistic or concerned or what's your level of concern about the condition they will find the pumps, valves and things, when they get in those plants, from the possible damage from the explosions or the earthquake?

MR. LOCHBAUM: Well, it's good that they keep their equipment in pristine condition, because that gives it as much likelihood as possible that it survived all the challenges that it faced.

One of the problems is that a lot of the equipment that's used is not designed for -- the equipment they use on a day-to-day basis, to move water around -- is not designed for earthquakes, to resist earthquakes. So, there's a high likelihood that something broke in those systems since it's really not designed for that.

The emergency equipment that's used to cool the reactor core is designed for the forces and motions that can occur during an earthquake. So, there's a much higher likelihood that it survived, and once you return power, it will be able to pick back up as it was doing before the earthquake or the tsunami arrived.

The explosion hazard is something different. That building that exploded, the reactor buildings, aren't supposed to have hydrogen. They are really not designed to withstand the kind of pressures that could have been occurring during the explosion. That could have damaged both the equipment used on a day-to-day basis and the emergency equipment.

The good news, or silver lining, I guess, is that the top of that building was designed with metal walls and a fairly flimsy roof. So, you can see from the videos that the explosion force went upward and blew the walls out and the roof out. Hopefully, that relieved the pressure, and those walls and roof absorbed most of the energy from the explosion such that the equipment inside the building received less of a force, a blast wave.

If so, then that means that there's a greater likelihood that the explosion didn't damage equipment over and above whatever the earthquake did. But, you know, it's a long ways away from Japan where I am. The workers on the plant need to go through the plant and figure out what survived and what didn't, what could be readily repaired, and get, you know, the cooling systems back up and running to deal with the cores and the spent fuel pools.

REPORTER: Thank you very much.

MR. NEGIN: Daniel, anybody else in the queue?

OPERATOR: At this time, I see no further questions in the queue.

MR. NEGIN: Okay. I think we can wrap up, then. I want to thank everyone for calling in this morning. We will be back tomorrow morning at 11:00. As I mentioned earlier, we are not going to be able to respond to requests for the rest of today, but we will be back on the phone tomorrow at 11:00 a.m., at the same phone number, to take your calls.

And on Monday, we will resume taking media requests, and we will also resume our 11:00 a.m. telepressers, and we will continue them as long as we have to. Thank you very much for participating, and good luck with your stories.

OPERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your attendance in today's program. This does conclude today's conference, and you may now disconnect.

(Whereupon, the telepress conference was concluded.)









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