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Palast writes: "I've seen a lot of sick stuff in my career, but this was sick on a new level ... The warning was in what the investigations team called The Notebook, which I'm not supposed to have."

Memos revealed that Japanese officials knew the plant could not stand up to an earthquake. (photo: AP)
Memos revealed that Japanese officials knew the plant could not stand up to an earthquake. (photo: AP)

Fukushima: They Knew

By Greg Palast,

16 August 12


"Completely and Utterly Fail in an Earthquake" The Fukushima story you didn't hear on CNN

've seen a lot of sick stuff in my career, but this was sick on a new level.

Here was the handwritten log kept by a senior engineer at the nuclear power plant:

Wiesel was very upset. He seemed very nervous. Very agitated. . . . In fact, the plant was riddled with problems that, no way on earth, could stand an earth- quake. The team of engineers sent in to inspect found that most of these components could "completely and utterly fail" during an earthquake.

"Utterly fail during an earthquake." And here in Japan was the quake and here is the utter failure.

The warning was in what the investigations team called The Notebook, which I'm not supposed to have. Good thing I've kept a copy anyway, because the file cabinets went down with my office building ....


Two senior nuclear plant engineers were spilling out their souls and files on our huge conference table, blowing away my government investigations team with the inside stuff about the construction of the Shoreham, New York, power station.

The meeting was secret. Very secret. Their courage could destroy their careers: No engineering firm wants to hire a snitch, even one who has saved thousands of lives. They could lose their jobs; they could lose everything. They did. That’s what happens. Have a nice day.

On March 12 this year, as I watched Fukushima melt, I knew: the "SQ" had been faked. Anderson Cooper said it would all be OK. He'd flown to Japan, to suck up the radiation and official company bullshit. The horror show was not the fault of Tokyo Electric, he said, because the plant was built to withstand only an 8.0 earthquake on the Richter scale, and this was 9.0. Anderson must have been in the gym when they handed out the facts. The 9.0 shake was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 90 miles away. It was barely a tenth of that power at Fukushima.

I was ready to vomit. Because I knew who had designed the plant, who had built it and whom Tokyo Electric Power was having rebuild it: Shaw Construction. The latest alias of Stone & Webster, the designated builder for every one of the four new nuclear plants that the Obama Administration has approved for billions in federal studies.

But I had The Notebook, the diaries of the earthquake inspector for the company. I'd squirreled it out sometime before the Trade Center went down. I shouldn't have done that. Too bad.

All field engineers keep a diary. Gordon Dick, a supervisor, wasn’t sup- posed to show his to us. I asked him to show it to us and, reluctantly, he directed me to these notes about the “SQ” tests.

SQ is nuclear-speak for “Seismic Qualification.” A seismically qualified nuclear plant won’t melt down if you shake it. A “seismic event” can be an earthquake or a Christmas present from Al Qaeda. You can’t run a nuclear reactor in the USA or Europe or Japan without certified SQ.

This much is clear from his notebook: This nuclear plant will melt down in an earthquake. The plant dismally failed to meet the Seismic I (shaking) standards required by U.S. and international rules.

Here’s what we learned: Dick’s subordinate at the nuclear plant, Robert Wiesel, conducted the standard seismic review. Wiesel flunked his company. No good. Dick then ordered Wiesel to change his report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, change it from failed to passed. Dick didn’t want to make Wiesel do it, but Dick was under the gun himself, acting on direct command from corporate chiefs. From The Notebook:

Wiesel was very upset. He seemed very nervous. Very agitated. [He said,] “I believe these are bad results and I believe it’s reportable,” and then he took the volume of federal regulations from the shelf and went to section 50.55(e), which describes reportable deficiencies at a nuclear plant and [they] read the section together, with Wiesel pointing to the appropriate paragraphs that federal law clearly required [them and the company] to report the Category II, Seismic I deficiencies.

Wiesel then expressed his concern that he was afraid that if he [Wiesel] reported the deficiencies, he would be fired, but that if he didn’t report the deficiencies, he would be breaking a federal law. . . .

The law is clear. It is a crime not to report a safety failure. I could imagine Wiesel standing there with that big, thick rule book in his hands, The Law. It must have been heavy. So was his paycheck. He weighed the choices: Break the law, possibly a jail-time crime, or keep his job.

What did Wiesel do? What would you do?

Why the hell would his company make this man walk the line? Why did they put the gun to his head, to make him conceal mortal danger? It was the money. It’s always the money. Fixing the seismic problem would have cost the plant’s owner half a billion dollars easy. A guy from corporate told Dick, “Bob is a good man. He’ll do what’s right. Don’t worry about Bob.”

That is, they thought Bob would save his job and career rather than rat out the company to the feds.

But I think we should all worry about Bob. The company he worked for, Stone & Webster Engineering, built or designed about a third of the nuclear plants in the United States.

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+66 # angelfish 2012-08-16 16:03
Sadly folks, be afraid, be VERY afraid!
+70 # NanFan 2012-08-16 21:35
Quoting angelfish:
Sadly folks, be afraid, be VERY afraid!

Believe me, sitting on an island in BC, Canada, I am and have been for some time.

This is far from over.

+39 # William Bjornson 2012-08-17 00:57
Over? It can only be over once. This is just future history when all those dumb poops made all the wrong decisions basing them on the voices fed to them by their elites just like so many other past empires. Ours will have been the briefest yet. We just get going and the parasites move in and begin to suck us dry and down we come. It will never be 'over', but our part in it will diminish greatly, our property will become cheap in a world of worthless dollars and the world will simply buy us, lock, stock, and conservative. We have a WWII navy whose complete annihilation in the first hour of WWIII will announce the war to us. We are a nation afraid of nuclear weapons when even worse weapons wait in the wings and on doorknobs, shopping carts, everywhere: Smallpox. Smallpox has not been a worry for some time. Oldsters all have immunizations. Our children have none. They are completely naive to Smallpox. Israel is immunizing its people against Smallpox which still exists in various weapons laboratories. Charles C. Mann ("1491","1493") estimates a 90% reduction in the population of the Americas from Smallpox and measles alone. In a naive population. If an attack occurred, the government would never be able to supply vaccines in time and our elite would get them first. We would lose an entire generation of our young people. We'd be defeated. This one is coming, in every city at once and to be blamed on al Queda. The weapons labs are in the US and old USSR. Who else might have them?
+33 # Vardoz 2012-08-17 08:28
Watch Dr. Helen Caldicott on UTube. THE MEDICAL IMPLICATIONS OF FUKUSHIMA. She is an expert in the medical affects of nuclear engergy and recently spoke at Dartmouth College and has been on PBS. Dr. Caldicott has devoted her life to educating people about the medical implications of nuclear energy. It is this mentality that will and is ulimately destroying us.
+97 # waltben 2012-08-16 17:06
And this is nothing more than a very typical example of what free enterprise and crony-capitalis m does. It's all about the bucks. Nothing more and nothing less. Nuclear power plants COULD be constructed to be safe if built in the right places and the right way. (What we do about the waste is something altogether different.) Money, greed, avarice and arrogance are what has kept it from happening, just like it's kept a whole lot of other things from happening as well.
+49 # Thomas Martin 2012-08-16 22:36
Waltben - you might be citing a very typical example of what free enterprise and crony-capitalis m does. However, I fear that you are also citing what personal self-interest and selfishness does - I assume that Wiesel lied in order to keep his job?
+6 # ptalady 2012-08-17 11:43
I enjoyed "The Hunger Games" trilogy. I found book three especially intriguing, because of the important leveraging use that was made of political leaders' families: having living family members made people vulnerable to "persuasion." It made me wonder anew why it is that real-world political leaders' family members are typically so publicly displayed, and why the politicians' fealty to their own families is always so loudly declared. We might not really know what the full motivation for Wiesel to lie might have been; certainly this story does not shed light on it.
-3 # Texas Aggie 2012-08-18 13:11
"in order to keep his job."

You say that as if it were some little thing. When you have a job and some action will make you lose it and never get a similar job again, it isn't just some little thing. It's the rest of your life.
+4 # noitall 2012-08-19 11:09
Quoting Texas Aggie:
"in order to keep his job."

You say that as if it were some little thing. When you have a job and some action will make you lose it and never get a similar job again, it isn't just some little thing. It's the rest of your life.

"the rest of your life" is the catastrophe that you see coming but keep silent about. What good is a job if you open the Pandora's box?
+68 # Dion Giles 2012-08-16 22:45
The nuclear lobby seeks uranium power because it is a made to order cash cow. All profits internalised, all costs externalised. The taxpayers pick up the insurance bill. Note uranium, not thorium which is also nuclear power. Thorium power (in which the reaction ceases spontaneously immediately it stops being fed neutrons, unlike uranium and plutonium fission) is not developed because the nuke companies and their tame lobby only want fuel that doubles up as weaponry.
+10 # MylesJ 2012-08-17 17:46
Decision was made in large part by Hyman Rickover when planning the nuclear submarine force. Thorium lost out to weapons production.
+2 # noitall 2012-08-19 11:10
I'd like to hear more about that!
+1 # Joe Bob 2012-08-19 12:30
Your CASH is nothin' but TRASH, stick out your can, here come de garbage man
+73 # wantrealdemocracy 2012-08-16 22:56
We are facing so many disasters but they all have the same root cause. The bankers run the world to their benefit. The bastards have no care for life, our lives or the life of our planet. Now with the bankers in control we face austerity--whic h for working people means our death. No jobs, no food, no homes, not health care, no pensions, no food stamps, no Social Security--no nothing to allow us to live a decent life. We the people must rise up and say "NO AUSTERITY!" Tax financial transactions at just 1% and we could fund a major WPA and rebuild our nation with full employment. Voting for one bunch of scoundrels over another will not do it. Get out on the street and stop the wheels like Mario Savia advised us. Stop the machine and shout out, "NO AUSTERITY! TAX THE RICH! REBUILD OUR NATION." We need to do this right now. This week we can start and build up to a crescendo with our clear demand. No austerity! Tax the rich! Rebuild our nation. More and more of us have to stand up and demand a national bank and the Federal Reserve be put under the control of Congress--get rid of the banksters.
+1 # noitall 2012-08-19 11:14
Gee I'd get out there in the street but that's the same time as the big game; I have my video game club meeting; I've finally got a tee-off time at the rich people's golf course, I've got to go to a wedding, that's when American Idol is on... We Americans are so busy.
+38 # mdhome 2012-08-16 23:05
In 1967, after graduation from college, I had a choice of 2 jobs, one was Stone and Webster, I did not go to work for them, maybe I could have been involved, glad I made the other job, as it turned out I did not stay too long there either, would I have lasted at S&W, I will never know. From what I understand, a large part of the world is in grave risk of radiation from the fuel rods high in the air, one shake and we are goners.
+25 # Douglas Jack 2012-08-16 23:14
For humans as social creatures inter-dependent with all others, it is essential that humans welcome & economically include everyone within proximity to our primary homes & other circles of activity. Those who don't include everyone & spend upon luxuries other than essentials are violating human solidarity as well as the limited capacities of the earth. Its a matter of solidarity, collaboration, inclusion, accounting for participation, facilitation / recognition for investment & collective involvement in decision-making . Its not a matter of intelligent critique. 'Community' from the Latin 'com' = 'together' + 'munus' = 'gift or service'. These are the primary laws or causes, which will bring us to a kind and sustainable society. It is not enough to live in solidarity, we must live openly & publicly letting the whole world know. The rest of the unfortunate details which Palast uncovers are only superficial effects which will unfortunately kill us. Knowing the difference between heart-cause and body-effect can rebuild a sustainable kind world and biosphere.
-14 # JackB 2012-08-17 09:42
Smoking the good stuff. Good for you.
+10 # Douglas Jack 2012-08-16 23:28
To add to the last post 'Including-Ever yone', "Do you know who we are?" Harry Bellafonte
0 # Billbb 2012-08-17 11:05
Thanks for this, DJ! Lovely!
+33 # werker 2012-08-16 23:50
Iam very interested in the Thorium Reactors. My brother's website, Toobbox,keeps bringing Thorium up. The people need to claim our collective power! I think we need to nationalize the Oil industry too. They have to much control over something the planet created and it belongs to everyone.
+23 # kbarrand 2012-08-17 07:25
I've heard that these same oil companies are buying up water rights so that when their poisonous emmissions dry up our reserves, they'll be able to cash in there.
0 # noitall 2012-08-19 11:20
+3 # noitall 2012-08-19 11:20
As does coal, old growth timber, water, etc, all these things that are irreplaceable. For generations, the government has been giving away these finite resources to their friends as gifts with little or no benefit to our society other than a few jobs. We need and want jobs that aren't that of sawing off the limb where we perch.
+47 # KrazyFromPolitics 2012-08-17 00:19
Corruption. "America has become a place where we all make a tacit agreement to deceive each other". Oddly, that came from an old sixties TV show called "Name of the Game". It resonated then, and has haunted me since.

Whether at home or exported to other parts of the world, the energetic creativity, innovation, and excellence that built the wealth of this country has become a perverse caricature of what it could be.

The reference to the excellence that built this country is in no way denial of the ugly, racist, and genocidal timeline that ran parallel to what was good. It is as though the concurrent paths of development have merged and become a cancer. I can no longer run from my cynicism. There is no excuse for withholding vital information about the potential for a nuclear meltdown. I fear for my children and grandchildren. All that is honorable about humankind is at risk.
+23 # X Dane 2012-08-17 01:03
How much are a few hundred thousand lives in case of a melt down??.....OK let's go.... The losses will be absorbed by the people and the government. In the meantime we will make a load of money, till it all comes tumbling down,

I am afraid that is the way a number of businesses rationalize.
+1 # noitall 2012-08-19 11:25
The way these greedy bastards are pimping their mother for more, one would think that they know something that we just suspect and are ravenously amassing fortunes so that they can afford their place in the fall out shelter on the moon, hoping that their yet unborn great-great-gre at grandchild might be able to again habitat the Earth.
+24 # BeaDeeBunker 2012-08-17 01:11
Greg Palast is the BEST!
And because he is the best, he can't get work here in the USA. He writes for the British paper 'The Guardian.' Sure, he has his international .com site, but that is rather recent.
When he blew the cover off the 2000 election scandal he was scoffed at by MSM.

This latest revelation might just be the tipping point, or it might just be an afterthought, gleaned from Nature's Notebook, on how the human race slowly, then quickly, destroyed itself.

I'm reminded of that last scene from "The Planet of the Apes," where Mr. NRA himself, comes upon the remnants of the Statue of Liberty sticking out of the sand by the shore. He looks up and says, in a voice that only Mr. NRA could muster, "They did it! The fools, they finally did it!" (I'm paraphrasing a bit here, but that's the essence of what I remember).

According to the story line and title of that movie, the apes survive mankind's folly, and carry on.

When the rats and cockroaches take over, next time, won't they be surprised to learn that humans once were able to speak. They will also hear rumored that humans had a rudimentary form of thinking, but just rudimentary; their survival skills were laughed at, or whatever cockroaches and rats do to convey their disdain and mockery.
+18 # Electricrailwaygod 2012-08-17 02:01
Only one thing here, this particular picture is NOT of any nuclear powerplant! That was an OIL REFINERY that was heavily damaged (if not totally destroyed) by tsunami! I saw the events as they unfolded, I am part Japanese and so of course I tried to keep abreast of what is happening in Japan -- and of course the Tohoku and Fukushima area in northeeast Honshu. I did however see the explosions on NHK's website ofthe actual buildings at Dai-ichi.
0 # mediatik 2012-08-17 17:19
I'd like to know your opinion about Richard Koshimizu's statements on recent earthquakes / tsunamis Thank you.
+33 # Aaron Tovish 2012-08-17 02:59
Greg, your story is dramatically written, but the effect is to make it VERY hard to tell who is saying what. Please reissue it in a form that makes it clear what is directly from the "Notebook' and what is your editorial comment. It is not even clear whether it is you that has the Notebook or someone else. Is there someplace on the Internet where the entire contents of the Notebook are provided. Thank you!
+11 # James Smith 2012-08-17 04:28
If this should prove to be true, the repercussions could be far more serious in places outside Japan.

I live in Brazil, where nuclear power is increasingly important. While there are no plants currently near me, that doesn't mean one will not be constructed. Fortunately, there has never been an earthquake, hurricane, tornado, or other violent natural event here in 430 years.
+1 # noitall 2012-08-19 11:27
How "near" is near when it comes to a nuclear meltdown? In Washington state, we feel pretty "near" to Fukushima.
+15 # cordleycoit 2012-08-17 06:11
Where is Obama, counting the money the Nukes contractors gave his campaign. I hate to carry bad news but the Democrats are in the construction industry's pockets as are the Rethugs. These people are killing people and walking away with their blood money. The Nuke builders own whole state legislators.
+8 # Phoenix59 2012-08-17 07:50
Thorium really is the safe energy future. They are talking about laser powered reactors small enough to power vehicles, in which 8g of thorium could take us 300,000 miles.
-13 # JackB 2012-08-17 09:54
I don't know about Thorium being a solution for vehicles (perhaps it will. A lot of work has to be done before that happens). It does appear to have a future in nuclear plants. Safer than uranium. Future technologies may provide better solutions but right now I think nuclear power should be an integral part of any plan to get off fossil fuel.
+2 # noitall 2012-08-19 11:31
That's like Methadone to "maintain" a Heroin addiction. "plan to get off fossil fuel", no better motivation to find the solution than cold turkey. Remember that these money gawds look only three months into the future.
+10 # kalpal 2012-08-17 08:22
When you worship Mammon, human lives are expendable. Money is the only important matter in the universe. If people's futures need to be jeopardized in order to insure a healthy cash flow stream, then so be it. Always there are new people being made and more profits being produced, so don't worry if a few thousand people must die to insure your family's future wealth standing. The money you have made will protect your family's future if you are one of the truly wealthy.
+10 # Urbancurmudgeon 2012-08-17 08:25
Why did Greg Palast write this in the style of a work of fiction. This is enormously important - if it's true - but his style makes it seem like fiction. And why hasn't he made this diary available to The Times or some of the networks, so that they can attempt to stop a disaster ? If what he is saying is provable, it's a hell of a condemnation of the entire nuclear industry.
-5 # johninnc 2012-08-17 08:48
I know that we should not let facts get in the way, but the reactor did survive the earthquake. The tidal wave destroyed the generators for the cooling units and that is why the reactor failed.
Hopefully something will be learned from this, but being afraid or very afraid is not the answer.
-6 # JackB 2012-08-17 09:33
Excellent point.
+5 # 8myveggies 2012-08-18 21:55
Actually, the assumption (likely based on disinformation distributed via the MSM) is incorrect.

Containment failure due to the earthquake caused pipes, including those carrying the cold water supply, to buckle and burst before the tsunami hit the plant per employees who were present. Eight minutes before the tsunami a radiation alarm went off at 3:29 pm.

The GE Mark I reactor design is a joke. There are 23 of them in the US, five in my state. Anyone remember when GE's slogan was, "We Bring Good Things to Life?" Gosh, I wonder why they ever dropped that one.
+11 # SOF 2012-08-17 18:36
We should be afraid -and forewarned, if you're listening to the ongoing discussion about safety at the San Onofre Nuclear Facility which sits on a S. California faultline, on the rocky beach of the Pacific and was made/designed by same US builder. Follow Arnie Gundersen at http:fairewinds .org. And yes, we pay the insurance for all nuclear facilities.
-29 # JackB 2012-08-17 09:21
You should have Google'd Greg Palast before posting.

If you do read up on him ask yourself - What are the odds this clown is the only person on Earth who seems to have this information?
+4 # noitall 2012-08-19 11:40
Let's see YOUR credentials, we've seen Greg's. We'll be the judge of who deserves the "clown" monocle.
+23 # SpaketheRaven 2012-08-17 09:32
Re. Urbancurmudgeon:
Greg Palast has always effected a dress and writing style like a 1940's crime novel writer, which does raise one's suspicions. However, check his history. His claims stand up to scrutiny. He was right on Jeb Bush's having thousands of people illegally taken off the voting roles, which allowed for Florida (and the presidency) to be delivered to the Republicans. He was right about Exxon in Alaska and many other stories he has tackled.
+10 # Buddha 2012-08-17 09:42
And there are loads of these Gen1 fission reactors here in the USA...and when one of them goes, does anybody doubt that we will later hear a similar story of "they knew, but covered up the risks"? Until every single older reactor is replaced with a Gen4 fission reactor (and by then we will probably have fusion workable, and we'd have that sooner if we weren't dragging our feet at the behest of Big Oil), we are simply rolling the dice every single day that we don't have a Chernobyl or Fukushima here.
+8 # Billbb 2012-08-17 11:10
I love Greg Palast and his truth-telling but have to say this article is very confusing. I get the gist of it but can't tell what is being said by who -- and if, indeed, there is a Notebook or if it's a mechanism invented to tell the story. And what did Wiesel eventually do regarding his report?

Clarity please, Greg!
+6 # Douglas Jack 2012-08-17 14:24
There are significant untruths in this comment section. Energy is rampant all around us. The most concentrated form of energy is the fecal & urine matter we send down our rivers, lakes & seas. Food scraps fermenting in our garbage. The wind howling through our streets concentrated by buildings & denuded river valleys. Sun boiling tar on our rooftops. Metals, plastics, wood, electronics thrown into garbage and soiled by food scraps. These forms of energy are more concentrated than nuclear or thorium and can be harvested with very small budgets. When we clean up the complementary energy all around us, then we as well will live in an abundant nature. Reaching out to complex multinational & state controlled centralized energy systems like nuclear or thorium is immensely false and the pre-occupation of slave worker populations who are too weak of mind to recognize abundance all around. Transmission of electricity in power lines from centralized power plants is lost at the rate of 5% per 100 miles or typically 50% of that produced by the time it is consumed in urban centers.
-3 # mediatik 2012-08-17 17:08
I'd like to know general opinions about Richard Koshimizu's statements on recent earthquakes / tsunamis Thank you.
+1 # noitall 2012-08-19 11:49
I don't know...a lot of things are dispelled as "conspiracy theories": JFK assassination, twin towers/9-11, global warming/climate change, chemtrails, etc. But now they're admitting to chem-trails, they'll probably open the truth in 100 years to the others. They're just protecting us or so we hear. What we know from experience is, if man is capable of it, he will do it and we know that the capability is there. Want to be fearful? learn about HARP, microwaves and other sick capabilities that have been developed/disco vered while moving us into the computer age.
0 # mediatik 2012-08-26 12:44
Thank you #noitall. Although I think that if the current situation remains as it is, in 100 years there will be only a few humans to whom the truth will be told, and those people will probably be... the descents of the brains behind these obscure operations. Will be they then attending nice parties, enjoying pleasant leisure activities, while mocking on us (the extinct ones)? Will be they then served by state of the art technology (and by a few slaves, whose lives will worth nothing)? Never forget that the forgers of the "Conspiracy Theory" concept are those who are in the highest power ranges. Quote some would not require too much brainwork. For instance, those who killed 1 million civilians in Iraq, aiming oil seizure. Never forget that.

"Those who control capital have the power and TECHNOLOGY to do as they please with both our material and our human resources. They deplete irreplaceable natural resources and act with growing disregard for the human being. And just as they have drained everything from companies, industries, and whole governments, so have they deprived even SCIENCE of its meaning — reducing it to technologies used to generate poverty, destruction, and unemployment." ~Humanist Document - 1993 (I. Global Capital). Full:

Isn't yet "truth" enough right in front of our eyes, at this very moment?
0 # mediatik 2012-08-26 13:45
In addition, I think that more useful than to be fearful is to be proactive and courageous, suing governments to force them to make public every single piece of available data. These governments are ideologically compromised with the corporation's greed and profit, so they must be obliged by judgements to stop destroying Humankind / Planet Earth environment, as they actually do. By the way, here is a short and good article about chemtrails -- once considered as one more du jour "conspiracy theory": The journalist also recommends to sue governments as much as possible. There is a link to a 35 pages leaked report about the subject, at the end of the article. Have a good read, if you dare to read it.
0 # mediatik 2012-08-26 10:03
Well, I understand that this possibility is so destabilizing, scary, "unbelievable", "nuts", that people automatically ignore / deny a seismologist clear statement -- data sheet attached -- as "impossible" (= CT). Unfortunately, seismological REFERENCE centers -- and, consequently, the assessment, storage and release of seismological data -- are all controlled by governments, aren't them? Note: I didn't come to this forum to collect kudos lol.

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