March 11th will mark the one-year anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan. Cleanup is still under way and the level of radiation exposure is still unknown. The massive earthquake and Tsunami that hit Japan are rightly blamed for the disaster at Fukushima but in fact the origins of the problem are far older and more sinister. In 1976 three nuclear engineers resigned from General Electric over massive safety issues they foresaw for nuclear power. The Mark1 reactor they helped design and build was the same reactor that failed at Fukushima. The engineers, Dale G. Bridenbaugh, Richard B. Hubbard and Gregory C. Minor, became known as the “GE Three.” Their defection came just as concerns over nuclear power were beginning to go mainstream, and the GE Three provided expert testimony that helped catalyze America’s first anti-nuclear movement.
Gregory C. Minor’s son, Mark, recalls the incident that finally spooked his father into quitting. Minor had worked on the reactor and control room design for a GE Plant called “Brown’s Ferry” in Alabama. His role at GE was to increase plant security by simplifying the controls and adding layers of defense. “It was stupid human error,” Mark says. The plant had backup plan after backup plan but one employee “went looking for leaks with a candle and caught the electrical system on fire.” [MORE at GuernicaMag.com]