The nuclear power plant in Shoreham was shuttered a year...

The nuclear power plant in Shoreham was shuttered a year after LIPA’s predecessor filed a lawsuit regarding the plant’s design. Credit: Newsday / Kathy Kmonicek, 2001

The containment design of the shuttered nuclear power plant at Shoreham was based on the same data as the now-troubled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, which has brought meltdown fears in northern Japan after a devastating earthquake and tsunami, a lawsuit claimed in 1988.

That claim was made by Long Island's dominant electric utility in a lawsuit filed a year before the Shoreham plant was decommissioned.

The Dai-ichi plant, a General Electric Mark I, on Monday had its second explosion in three days in the wake of a huge earthquake and tsunami.

Shoreham's $6-billion nuclear plant was sold to the Long Island Lighting Co., or LILCO, as a GE Mark II, but its containment "would work properly because it was based on test data used in designing the Mark I," according to the 1988 lawsuit filed by LILCO.

The Shoreham plant was decommissioned in 1989, after then-Gov. Mario Cuomo and other government officials refused to participate in evacuation planning. Newsday reported in February 1988 that LILCO -- predecessor to LIPA -- claimed it was informed by General Electric that the Mark I and Mark II containment designs were based on the same data.

The LILCO claim was contained in a federal lawsuit filed in San Jose, Calif.

LILCO also alleged that GE internally "concluded that the company had a poor understanding of what would happen when steam would condense," Newsday reported in 1988. And the Mark I -- and Mark II -- "test data did not provide a complete understanding of the steam condensation process for the Mark I containment and could not be extrapolated for use in other designs," LILCO alleged.

The $400-million suit was settled when General Electric agreed to help LILCO remove Shoreham's fuel and provide services and goods at reduced costs.

On Monday, GE defended the Mark I: "The BWR Mark I reactor is the industry's workhorse with a proven track record of safety and reliability for more than 40 years," said Michael Tetuan, spokesman for GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy.

With Ellen Yan

Latest videos