03 April 2012


26 years ago and only 3 weeks before Chernobyl, a US reactor underwent a Common Mode Failure of the type which devastated the Fukushima-Diiachi reactors. 70 scientists and technologists were jammed into the reactor control room in, what ordinary folks would have considered, a suicide pact. At that point, the Common Mode Failure occured and nature took its course.

 In Dr John Sackett's word:  ".....the worst accident that could befall a nuclear power system, that worst accident is a complete loss of electric power to everything, back-up as well, and failure of all the safety systems that shut the reactor down...."

Left - Darrell Pfannensteil, Shift Supervisor
Centre - Dr John Sackett, Director
Right - Dick Lindsey, Director of Communications
This is exactly what happened at Fukushima-Diiachi -  after all of the electricity from the reactors themselves was turned off, along came the sunami and knocked out all of the back-up systems. The result was a catastrophe.

Darrell Pfannensteil was issuing instructions to his plant operators as the event occured. He had told colleagues beforehand that he was not scared of this type of accident occuring, so what was his response? In his own words:  ".....we got to watch the forces of nature shut the reactor down.....we'd found a reactor that could protect itself....."

 Later, Darrel's experience of working on EBR-II, lead him to draw a comparison with the predominant nuclear reactor used for power generation, the Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR). ".....I did have experience - about 6 years - on pressurised water reactors.....if I [n]ever see another pressurised water reactor, it would not bother me. This is the technology to go with....."

After 33 years of dedicated, productive work, the political decision to shut down EBR-II was made and in September 1994, Dr Sackett recollects that:  "....when I had to go to the operating crews and tell them we'd got the order to shut EBR-II down.....the reaction amongst all the crews was - doesn't the country realise what they're losing here?....". Near to tears, he goes on to say:  ".....I remember directing the shut-down---and the scram---and just silence...."

You witness men saddened by their knowledge of what the world has turned away from and bemused by the decades lost before we all have to accept the deployment of breeder reactor technology. And what of the planetary desecration that has been allowed to happen in those decades? When these vociferous anti-nuclear activists are finall silenced, will they still puff out their chests as they plug in their electric cars, but then will they also switch on the light in their air conditioned living room, turn on the TV and wrap-around sound system, sit back and think about those wasted decades? Probably not.

All of this can be seen on :  http://vimeo.com/35261457

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