Why no good deed goes unpunished: Greed

Whistleblowers in America should be praised but have instead been severely abused by government and corporations.

We are now reminded that three GE employees — who “publicly resigned, joined the anti-nuclear movement, and became known as the ‘GE Three’” — were forced to resign over their concerns about GE’s “Mark 1” nuclear reactors:

Thirty-five years ago, Dale G. Bridenbaugh and two of his colleagues at General Electric resigned from their jobs after becoming increasingly convinced that the nuclear reactor design they were reviewing — the Mark 1 — was so flawed it could lead to a devastating accident….

“The problems we identified in 1975 were that, in doing the design of the containment, they did not take into account the dynamic loads that could be experienced with a loss of coolant,” Bridenbaugh told ABC News in an interview. “The impact loads the containment would receive by this very rapid release of energy could tear the containment apart and create an uncontrolled release.”

…Bridenbaugh told ABC News that he believes the design flaws that prompted his resignation from GE were eventually addressed at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Bridenbaugh said GE agreed to a series of retrofits at Mark 1 reactors around the globe….

“Like with seismic refitting, they went back and re-analyzed the loads the structures might receive and beefed up the ability of the containment to handle greater loads,” he said.

When asked if that was sufficient, he paused. “What I would say is, the Mark 1 is still a little more susceptible to an accident that would result in a loss of containment.”

So, as bad as things are in Japan, they could be even worse (and might have happened earlier and in more nuclear reactors), if not for three heroic men who threw away their careers and shamed their former employer into doing the right thing.

Posted by James on Wednesday, March 16, 2011