US officials have long insisted that American nuclear plants are safe from the kind of crisis that hit Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, because they have a newer, better venting system. But Tokyo Electric has now revealed that it installed the exact same vents years ago, the New York Times reports. And, like the Japanese plants, the vents on US plants are wired to the same power system as the rest of the plant.
In Japan, that meant that when power failed, a worker had to open the vents by hand, according to Tokyo Electric's reactor "diaries." Now, the US will have to determine whether the system, which is built by GE, needs an expensive overhaul. “Japan is going to teach us lessons,” says one safety expert. “If we’re in a situation where we can’t vent where we need to, we need to fix that.”