Monday, July 27, 2015

Intensive Focus on Profits Amplifies Financial and Operational Risks

The nuclear complex is organized around money and the seduction of absolute power over matter. The profit motive seems greater today than the latter organizing principle, as illustrated by relentless pressures on profitability at Toshiba, a company that includes nuclear engineering in its portfolio:

Toshiba execs, staff say they were under pressure to achieve high profits

Current and former executives and high-ranking employees at the Toshiba group say its various divisions had been under enormous pressure from top board members to achieve unreasonably high profit goals, forcing them to pad their profits.

"I never want to go back to such a life," said a man, who once served as president of a subsidiary of Toshiba Corp. that is under fire for padding profits through accounting irregularities....

A report released by a third-party panel that investigated the profit overstating scandal describes in detail how Tanaka and other top-ranking executives set unreasonably high profit goals -- called a "challenge" -- for each division and subsidiary and forced those responsible to pad their profits through accounting irregularities....

The crisis at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant that broke out in March 2011 also contributed to Toshiba executives' excessive pursuit of profits.

Toshiba's nuclear plant division, which executives regarded as a key division that would grow steadily, suffered a setback following the outbreak of the disaster. "We had thought that the division's future would be rosy but it began to take a thorny path," a high-ranking official of Tohiba says.
Majia here: The relentless pursuit of profit (i.e., greed) infuses the entire nuclear industry.

Today, aging nuclear plants are being "up rated" and having their lives extended far beyond design specifications so that utilities and government do not have to face the problems and prohibitive costs of nuclear decommissioning.
Risks from accidents, particularly from uprating (U.S. is increasing nuclear power through uprating.( see Alan Zarembo and Ben Welsh, Los Angeles Times April 17, 2011,
Tiny uprates have long been common. But nuclear watchdogs and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's own safety advisory panel have expressed concern over larger boosts — some by up to 20% — that the NRC began approving in 1998. Twenty of the nation's 104 reactors have undergone these "extended power uprates."

...In an uprated reactor, more neutrons bombard the core, increasing stress on its steel shell. Core temperatures are higher, lengthening the time to cool it during a shutdown. Water and steam flow at higher pressures, increasing corrosion of pipes, valves and other parts...

"This trend is, in principle, detrimental to the stability characteristics of the reactor, inasmuch as it increases the probability of instability events and increases the severity of such events, if they were to occur," the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards, which is mandated by Congress to advise the NRC, has warned.
Majia here: Aging nuclear plants are routinely spewing tritium into the environment:
‘75% of nuke sites leaking tritium, AP report finds Half have parts exceeding drinking water standard’, Http://
Nuclear accidents are far more likely than past predictions and human greed is increasing the likelihood of accidents every day.

1 comment:

  1. if people have sense anymore they will not fly so much. geir went up to 500 from 16 backgound in portland to chicago


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