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But first more on the crisis in Japan tonight.
And joining me from Washington DC for more on that crisis in Japan a leading nuclear engineer former deputy director at the Department of Energy.
Like -- -- good to have you with us mr.
Let me begin by asking you are partial meltdown confirmed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Reports that one set of fuel rods -- clear at least to me.
As to whether it is -- -- reactor or rather than do that war is in an area.
-- spent fuel pool.
Has been expose what is your understanding tonight.
It's very difficult to know exactly what is going on because it's communications are very hard when.
Workers are working very hard trying to control situation inside those reactors.
I've basically what I believe is happening is the three reactors you know 12 in three.
Have had severe damage to the -- new reactors and that they've turned to rubble probably.
And there's probably some localized melting or partial melting as you mentioned.
So that is the situation air water is in those were going to those reactors we understand -- this time.
But things can change -- this is very challenging.
Probably the biggest challenge right now -- the spent fuel pools that you've mentioned earlier and they're working to get cooling water or something to cover that.
Because goes apparently are releasing some -- -- -- to -- our.
Were you surprised to hear from the achieved the energy chief of the European Union that.
In his judgment.
The situation in Fukushima is simply out of control.
Because we had not heard anything approaching that level.
Of either concern or assessment from the Japanese authorities themselves.
But -- Out of control is a subjective time I don't know what the European commissioner had in mind when you're is that I -- as an engineer.
What I would say I mean.
Incredible -- -- that that the -- the plan to work isn't working very very hard to.
To get cooling water in there and then not been successful but that they have -- division and to -- other points so.
And it is it is very fluid it's very dynamic.
It is very uncertain at this time but the Japanese.
Workers from -- working very hard to -- tablets cooling.
To essentially -- over those -- -- bringing in for example fire control trucks.
To -- their water cannon and those -- reactors and spent fuel pools.
Is that -- practicable.
Effective solution to your way of thinking.
But it's the sort of a last resort on this very important engine cooling.
On the on the over heated elements as as quickly respectively you can.
So water is is good though they may use -- to read or something like that as well.
But they -- they're working to try to minimize the plume that is coming from those facilities.
Now much of the concern and anxiety.
Rightly or wrongly is being transferred.
And focused on the 104.
Nuclear power plants in this country to provide just about 20% of our energy.
You're in your assessment of the safety concerns that are appropriate and proportionate.
-- for the American public toward nuclear power in this country and those plants.
Bob I believe the 104 reactors United States are safe reactors we have lessons learned from this Japanese situation and the industry will.
Learn from that and I think we'll improve that.
The big issue in Fukushima was the unprecedented tsunami that floating hit that.
That most American plants are not on the seacoast.
So that is not a concern.
And that was -- to me so far the number one lesson from.
All American plants are designed for -- is that's a design basis for the NRC.
But I think the NRC will look very closely at the safety margins and that they feel it needs to be improved the -- and if you will do so.
-- the energy suckers secretary Steven Chu re affirming the administration's support.
Which has 36 billion dollars in the year 2012 budget and support of nuclear power.
At the same time the these risk assessment by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Much of the focus has been on the West Coast -- nuclear power plants in this country.
Perhaps most of all to people in the northeast.
The number one plant in terms of risk -- -- seismic activity is the Indian point.
Energy center just outside of New York.
The pilgrim planned in Massachusetts.
Limerick in Pennsylvania.
And and the list goes on.
These are obviously dramatic.
Assessments because there is -- part because they're surprising.
Most people don't think of New York has an -- rumors seismic activity would pose a risk -- -- all are you surprised.
I'm no I'm not surprised at all I mean -- engineering aspects of seismic.
Are at all plants under the NRC rules.
So the again the initially when the earthquake struck -- -- in Japan.
That from the information we have available so far was the earthquake -- in the dynamic loading.
Other plants did quite well without the diesels started it was the tsunami that was -- that the situation that we're seeing today.
And we should point out the tour actors operational -- Indian point are only a few years newer than.
The and you achieve the Fukushima Dai Ichi plant.
Our reactors that are.
Quote unquote out of control.
Tonight where -- suffered three.
Partial meltdowns at least.
What are we want to say thank you very much for being here to help illuminate what is so difficult for many of us understand thank you sir.
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