•  

    Caroline Reda

    Caroline RedaPresident and CEO    

     

     

     What was your reaction to the natural disaster in Japan on March 11 and the subsequent accident at Fukushima?  

     Our immediate reaction was concern for the Japanese people, our close partners at Hitachi and our employees.

    When the earthquake and tsunami struck the east coast, we were working on a scheduled outage of Unit 4 of the Fukushima Daiichi plant.  GE Hitachi had more than 40 employees and contractors on site and among our first priorities was ensuring their safety.

    We also immediately offered support to our alliance partner, Hitachi, as they helped TEPCO address the dynamic situation in Japan.  We set up a 24-hour command centers at our headquarters in Wilmington, N.C. and in Japan and provided engineering and other assistance to Hitachi, the NRC, INPO, WANO, and other customers around the globe.

    In the days following the disaster, GE employees from 41 countries pledged more than $1 million to disaster relief organizations to assist the Japanese people. With GE Foundation Matching Gifts, this overall GE employee commitment surpassed $2 million. These donations were in addition to the $10 million commitment by GE's charitable foundation.

    To help meet emergency power demands in Japan, GE Energy delivered 17 gas turbine units, providing over 1500MW of electricity.

    Has your company been involved in the recovery operations at Fukushima?

    We are assisting our alliance partner, Hitachi, as they work on the recovery actions on the ground and continue to work with our customers worldwide to understand the lessons that may emerge and additional regulatory requirements as a result.

    What actions has your company carried out in response to Fukushima?

    We continue to support our alliance partner, Hitachi, to assist TEPCO in the recovery actions in Japan.  Like our industry peers and the customers we serve, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy is committed to participating in the learning process and supporting the continued safe operation of nuclear power plants worldwide.

    GEH is also participating in the industry's "The Way Forward" program managed by NEI and supporting the BWR Owners' Group in evaluation of the lessons learned from Fukushima.

    What does the nuclear industry as a whole need to do in response to Fukushima?

    The nuclear industry is, first and foremost, characterized by a strong commitment to cooperation and safety.  The lessons learned from the events in Japan are going to make the industry safer and we're committed to being part of the analysis, learning and evolution of the industry.

    What can be done at existing nuclear plants to ensure their safety in response to learning from Fukushima?

    While this is best answered by those that currently operate nuclear power plants, we are committed to assisting our customers in implementing lessons learned and increasing safety. 

    What features do new reactor designs offer to address the issues faced at Fukushima?

    Before addressing new reactor design, it is important to note that GE Mark I BWR reactors are a proven, reliable technology that fulfills all regulatory requirements and has performed well for more than 40 years.  The lessons learned from the events in Japan are going to make the entire industry safer.

    GEH's Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) provides the latest features of an active safety system design with a proven operational and construction record. The Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) incorporates passive safety systems which require no AC power to actuate or operate and uses gravity and the natural rising of steam to safely cool the reactor. The ESBWR's safety system allows for more than seven days of reactor cooling without any operator action, onsite or offsite power, allowing the unit to withstand severe environmental challenges even under an extended Station Black Out (SBO) scenario.

    Has Fukushima changed your opinion of nuclear power?

    Absolutely not. Nuclear energy is still a critical piece of the global energy future, providing virtually carbon-free electricity and baseload power options to established and emerging countries alike. 

    What do you now see as the future for nuclear power?

    The nuclear industry is, first and foremost, characterized by a strong commitment to cooperation and safety. The lessons learned from the events in Japan are going to make the industry safer and we're committed to being part of the analysis, learning and evolution of the industry.

    GEH is excited about the long-term future of nuclear power and assisting our customers implement the lessons learned.  By and large around the world, the interest for nuclear energy remains strong as there are pressing power needs for reliable baseload power as well as for energy independence and security.