I need to speak to you, not as a reporter, but in my former capacity as lead investigator in several government nuclear plant fraud and racketeering investigations.
I don’t know the law in Japan, so I can’t tell you if Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) can plead insanity to the homicides about to happen.
But what will Obama plead? The administration, just months ago, asked Congress to provide a $4 billion loan guarantee for two new nuclear reactors to be built and operated on the Gulf Coast of Texas – by TEPCO and local partners. As if the Gulf hasn’t suffered enough. Here are the facts about TEPCO and the industry you haven’t heard on CNN:
The failure of emergency systems at Japan’s nuclear plants comes as no surprise to those of us who have worked in the field.
Nuclear plants the world over must be certified for what is called “SQ” or “Seismic Qualification.” That is, the owners swear that all components are designed for the maximum conceivable shaking event, be it from an earthquake or an exploding Christmas card from al-Qaeda.
The most inexpensive way to meet your SQ is to lie. The industry does it all the time. The government team I worked with caught them once, in 1988, at the Shoreham plant in New York. Correcting the SQ problem at Shoreham would have cost a cool billion, so engineers were told to change the tests from “failed” to “passed.”
The company that put in the false safety report? Stone & Webster, now the nuclear unit of Shaw Construction, which will work with TEPCO to build the Texas plant. Lord help us.
As I pointed out the other day, TEPCO has been found to have lied in at least 200 instances on their safety reports. This is really, really bad.
AUSTIN, Texas — Sen. Al Franken claimed Monday that big corporations are “hoping to destroy” the Internet and issued a call to arms to several hundred tech-savvy South by Southwest attendees to preserve net neutrality.
“I came here to warn you, the party may be over,” Franken said. “They’re coming after the Internet hoping to destroy the very thing that makes it such an important [medium] for independent artists and entrepreneurs: its openness and freedom.”
Net neutrality, he added, is “the First Amendment issue of our time.”
Receiving a hero’s welcome from the liberal crowd, Franken took repeated shots at big telecoms, singling out Comcast.
He said Comcast is looking to change the basic architecture of the Web by implementing a pricing scheme that allows moneyed interests to pay for faster speeds, leaving everyone else behind. That would be a particularly bad development for the independent musicians and artists gathered here, he said.
“The real end for Comcast is to put Netflix out of business entirely,” Franken said, because of the threat that Netflix’s streaming video business could pose to Comcast’s cable franchise. “In the end, the American people will end up paying a lot more for worse service.”
New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley on Friday tried to calm people’s nerves about rising food prices by reminding them that other products — like iPads — are getting cheaper.
“Today you can buy an iPad 2 that costs the same as an iPad 1 that is twice as powerful,” Dudley said in Queens, Reuters reports. “You have to look at the price of all things.”
But better iPads don’t put food on the table, audience members reminded him. “When was the last time, sir, that you went grocery shopping?” one person asked. And, perhaps most succinctly, another told him, “I can’t eat an iPad.”
When Alito and Roberts were nominated, I was on a series of conference calls about how we should attack them for being anti-abortion. I said (not unreasonably, I thought) that that issue was divisive, and we could get a lot more people on our side by pointing out that these two invariable sided with corporations, no matter what. I was ignored.