Recent tests on components of at least 18 live reactors found risks of major accidents
The stalwart environmental defense group Greenpeace probably feels pretty good about itself right now. Specifically, Greenpeace France, which called for investigations of nuclear power plants across the nation – investigations which turned up some harrowing problems.
France’s nuclear security agency, Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), did not find the metallurgical flaws in key components of the reactors. Nor did the state-owned operator Électricité de France (EDF). Nor did the contractor in charge of supplying the parts. Nor did the forge, Le Creusot, which actually manufactured the pressure vessels and caps in question. It took two independent organizations to uncover dangerous levels of carbon in the steel components: Greenpeace France and the French Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN).
It seems the contractor – which shipped these crucial parts to nuclear power plants across France – was less concerned with the steel than with the “steal.” How could a corporation with French contracts totaling billions of euros since 2001, and many more internationally, get so lax with quality controls? Especially when it comes to components meant to essentially keep pressurized radiation from escaping into the population!
The presence of carbon in steel makes it more brittle, which is precisely the absolute worst quality a component under pressure should have. The IRSN points out that a failure of any of these parts could trigger a core meltdown and the attendant major nuclear emergency. Not only are these flawed components inside at least 18 operational French plants, they are also installed in new power plants under construction. A report on GlobalResearch.ca says they may have even been installed in locations outside of France, including the United States.
Let’s not miss the point that a failures have already occurred: the failure of the contractor to deliver a safe product, the failure of EDF in installing the flawed parts, and the failure of ASN’s inspections.
These failures betray an abominable cynicism, but also a level of greed that strays into psychopathy. Is French bureaucracy so entangled in red tape that diligent oversight has become impossible? Is EDF so strangled by the expectations of its shareholders? Are minds mangled by avarice in the executive suites of Le Creusot’s parent company?
The only explanation which could assign some modicum of self-preservation (if we wished to lower the bar so) to the unnerving situation is if all executives and bureaucrats involved live outside of Europe! Wouldn’t the installation of compromised steel in a nearby nuclear reactor be the definition of insanity? When it blows, aren’t they all going to go? That they would seriously endanger their neighbors and countrymen goes without saying at this point “in the complex arena of human relations,” I reluctantly suppose.
My upcoming novel, ULTIMATE ERROR, is about the greed of homo sapiens in action. As we see time and again, it is often a blinding, self-destructive avarice. The only question is whether it will yet become a self-annihilating avarice.