Arnold Gundersen

Arnold "Arnie" Gundersen (born January 4, 1949 in Elizabeth, New Jersey[1]) is a former nuclear industry executive, and engineer with more than 44 years of nuclear industry experience who became a whistleblower in 1990. Gundersen has written dozens of expert reports for nongovernment organizations and the state of Vermont.[2] Gunderson was a licensed reactor operator from 1971-1972 on Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's zero-power open-pool university research reactor at the Reactor Critical Facility in Schenectady, New York,[3] where he was a nuclear engineering graduate student.[4][5]

Gundersen questioned the safety of the Westinghouse AP1000, a proposed third-generation nuclear reactor and has expressed concerns about the operation of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. He served as an expert witness in the investigation of the Three Mile Island accident[6] and has provided commentary on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.[7][8][9]


Gundersen is a graduate of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1971), with a B.S. cum laude and a GPA of 3.74 in nuclear engineering, holds a master's degree in nuclear engineering, and gained an Atomic Energy Commission Fellowship (1972). Gundersen has more than 40 years of nuclear power engineering experience.[clarification needed][citation needed] Gundersen holds a nuclear safety patent, was a licensed reactor operator, and is a former nuclear industry senior vice president. During his nuclear power industry career, Gundersen also managed and coordinated projects at 70 nuclear power plants in the US. [1][2][10]


From 1972 to 1976 Gundersen worked at the Northeast Utilities Service Corporation as a nuclear engineer; and from 1976 to 1979 at New York State Electric & Gas as an engineering supervisor.[1] From 1979 to 1990 Gundersen was employed at Nuclear Energy Services, a Danbury, Connecticut-based consulting firm.[1] Gundersen served as an expert witness in the investigation of the 1979 Three Mile Island accident.[6] He co-authored the DOE Decommissioning Handbook, First Edition (1981–82).[1]

In 1990 Gundersen was a senior vice president at Nuclear Energy Services when he discovered radioactive material in an accounting safe. Three weeks after notifying the company president of what he believed to be radiation safety violations, Gundersen was fired. According to The New York Times, for three years, Gundersen was "awakened by harassing phone calls in the middle of the night" and "became concerned about his family's safety". Gundersen believes he was blacklisted, harassed and fired for doing what he thought was right.[2]

While also writing numerous nuclear expert reports from 1993 to 2008, Gundersen was employed at a number of Connecticut schools teaching mathematics and physics;[1][11] in 2007 he became Mathematics Professor at Community College of Vermont.[1]

Gundersen is chief engineer of Fairewinds Associates, and on the board of directors for Fairewinds Energy Education a 501c3 non-profit organization.


“The Lessons of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident”, International Symposium on the Truth of Fukushima Nuclear Accident and the Myth of Nuclear Safety, Iwanami Shoten Publishers, University of Tokyo, Japan, August 30, 2012.

“The Echo Chamber: Regulatory Capture and the Fukushima Daiichi Disaster”, Lessons From Fukushima, February 27, 2012, Greenpeace International.

Co-author of Fukushima Daiichi: Truth And The Way Forward, Shueisha Publishing, February 17, 2012, Tokyo, Japan.

Invited chapter author for the DOE Decommissioning Handbook, First Edition, 1981-1982.


Energy Absorbing Turbine Missile Shield – U.S. Patent # 4,397,608 ¬– September 8, 1983



In April 2010, Gundersen released a report (commissioned by several nongovernment organizations[who?]) which explored a hazard associated with the possible rusting through of the AP1000 containment structure steel liner. In the AP1000 design, the liner and the concrete are separated, and if the steel rusts through, "there is no backup containment behind it" says Gundersen.[12] If the dome rusted through the design would expel radioactive contaminants and the plant "could deliver a dose of radiation to the public that is 10 times higher than the N.R.C. limit" according to Gundersen. Westinghouse has disputed Gundersen’s assessment.[12] Gundersen has testified before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards saying that "if a hole appeared, the chimney effect would disperse radioactive material far and wide".[13]

Vermont YankeeEdit

In 2010 Gundersen expressed concerns about the operation of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant, saying a leak of radioactive tritium there could be "followed by releases of other, more dangerous materials if the plant keeps operating".[14] The plant ceased operations in 2014 and is currently in the process of nuclear decommissioning.

Gundersen has said that the U.S. nuclear industry and regulators need to reexamine disaster planning and worst-case scenarios, especially in reactors such as Vermont Yankee, which have the same design as the crippled nuclear plant at the center of the 2011 Japanese Fukushima nuclear emergency. He has stated that Vermont Yankee and similar plants are vulnerable to a similar cascade of events as in Japan.[15]


As part of Fairewinds Energy Education, Gundersen has hosted numerous videos and provided updates about the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.[16][17] He was also a regular guest on media outlets such as Democracy Now and CNN discussing the issue.[7][8][18] In an interview with Al Jazeera, Gundersen referred to Fukushima as "the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind".[19]

In September 2013 Gundersen accused the Japanese government of lying in order to secure its position as host of the 2020 Olympic Games when it claimed that the disaster was under control and that there existed no health concerns. The plant, Gundersen said, "is leaking into the Pacific Ocean extensively" and that thyroid cancers, deformed fish and radioactive animals were being discovered.[20]

In early October 2013, Gundersen stated that due to newly discovered leaks and impending tropical storms, the potential existed for a release of radiation 15,000 times that of Hiroshima.[9]


A weeklong series in the December 1992 Cleveland Plain Dealer entitled "Lethal Doses: Radiation That Kills" alleged "extreme medical malpractice" in radiation medicine and accused the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of "serial failings to do anything about it". Runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize in 1993, the Plain Dealer’s five-part series alleged numerous of "misappropriation and sloppiness using nuclear material that led to disfigurement and death". One of the five parts cited Arnie Gundersen who alleged "botched inspections and cozy personal relationships between NRC inspectors and licensees". Two congressional investigations were held in response to this series in order to obtain NRC reform on the matter.[citation needed]

Partial transcript from Federal regulation of medical radiation uses: Hearing before the U. S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs,, May 6, 1993, page 22:[21]

Committee Chairman Senator John Glenn: "... what is the NRC doing to assure that Commission employees don't engage in potential conflict of interest practices?"
NRC Chairman Selin: "... it is true. Everything Mr. Gundersen said was absolutely right; he performed quite a service..." [stating that the conflict of interest issue is ] "much more troublesome because , to be frank, it's not just a question of who was paying for the lunches, but why these people were having lunch together in the first place. I mean it was the familiarization and the fraternization that was more worrisome... We are very concerned about this situation. We are sharpening our regulations, but in this case there is no question that the actions happened as described by the IG, people knew or should have known that they should not have done these actions... But that is a very worrisome situation- both of fraternization with the licensees and then the well-meaning but very dangerous practice of recommending people to licensees to help them solve problems."

See alsoEdit

Presentations and SpeechesEdit

  • The Future of Energy: Is Nuclear the Solution? Invited guest speaker in debate against Dr. Jordi Roglans-Ribas (Director of Nuclear Engineering Division at Argonne National Laboratory),[22] held at Northwestern University, April 30, 2015[23][24][25]
  • Should Nuclear Energy be Expanded to Help Create a More Sustainable Future? Invited guest speaker in Debate at Hofstra University, November 20, 2014
  • Radiation Knows No Borders Invited speaker at The Wave Conference, Life Chiropractic West, San Francisco, CA, August 2, 2014.
  • Thirty-five Years and Five Meltdowns Later: The Real Lessons of Three Mile Island Keynote Speaker for Three Mile Island at 35 (TMI@35) Symposium at Penn State, Harrisburg, PA, March 28, 2014.
  • Speaking Truth to Power, Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY, October 22, 2013.
  • Fukushima: Ongoing Lessons for New York, 82nd Street YMCA, New York City,NY, October 8, 2013. Speakers were Arnie Gundersen, Riverkeeper President Paul Galley, Former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Former NRC Chair Gregory Jaczko, Former NRC Commissioner Peter Bradford, and Ralph Nader.
  • What Did They Know And When? Fukushima Daiichi Before And After The Meltdowns, Symposium: The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident, The New York Academy of Medicine, New York City, NY, March 11, 2013.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g, CURRICULUM VITAE RESUME: Arnold Gundersen, Energy Advisor, February 2009
  2. ^ a b c Julie Miller (February 12, 1995). "Paying The Price For Blowing The Whistle". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Harris, D.R. (September 30, 1990). "Education and training at the Rensseaer Polytechnic Institute reactor critical facility". Energy Research Abstracts. Oak Ridge, Tennessee: Office of Scientific and Technical Information, U.S. Department of Energy. 15 (18): 79. Retrieved October 12, 2021. The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Reactor Critical Facility (RCF) has provided hands-on education and training for RPI and other student for almost a quarter of a century. The RCF was built in the 1950s by the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) as a critical facility in which to carry out experiments in support of the Army Package Power Reactor (APPR) program. A number of APPRs were built and operated. In the middle 1960s, ALCO went out of business and provided the facility to RPI. Since that time, RPI has operated the RCF primarily in a teaching mode in the nuclear engineering department, although limited amounts of reactor research, activation analysis, and reactivity assays have been carried out as well.
  4. ^ Gundersen, Arnold (May 2020). "Arnold Gundersen, Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). as filed with United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. p. 17 of 18. Retrieved October 12, 2021. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) — 1971 to 1972; Critical Facility Reactor Operator, Instructor – Licensed AEC Reactor Operator instructing students and utility reactor operator trainees in start-up through full power operation of a reactor.
  5. ^ "Arnold Gundersen - Nuclear Resume (included in New England Coalition's appeal)" (PDF). New England Coalition's Appeal of State Of Vermont Public Service Board's order allowing Entergy to increase power at Vermont Yankee. New England Coalition. March 8, 2006. p. 29 of 31. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 15, 2011. Retrieved October 12, 2021. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI); Critical Facility Reactor Operator, Instructor; Licensed AEC Reactor Operator instructing students and utility reactor operator trainees in start-up through full power operation of a reactor.
  6. ^ a b David Case (March 14, 2011). "Nuclear expert: "50-50 chance of a catastrophic radiation" from Japan". Global Post.
  7. ^ a b Shows featuring Arnie Gundersen | Democracy Now!
  8. ^ a b "Expert talks radioactive water effects – CNN Video". CNN.
  9. ^ a b Nuclear Crisis at Fukushima Could Spew Out More Than 15,000 Times as Much Radiation as Hiroshima Bombing
  10. ^ Fairewinds, About Us
  11. ^ Katherine Boughton, The Litchfield County Times, December 10, 1999, The Whistleblower: Arnold Gundersen of Goshen
  12. ^ a b Matthew L. Wald. Critics Challenge Safety of New Reactor Design The New York Times, April 22, 2010.
  13. ^ Wald, Matthew L. (January 31, 2011). "Disputed Reactor Design Moves Forward". The New York Times.
  14. ^ John Dillon. Nuclear Expert Says Yankee Should Shut Down VPR News, February 11, 2010.
  15. ^ John Dillon (March 15, 2011). "Nuclear expert: U.S. should review worst case scenarios". Reuters.
  16. ^ Fairewinds Videos | Fairewinds Energy Education Archived July 1, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Fukushima Daiichi | Fairewinds Energy Education Archived June 13, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ "Japan's radiation twice as bad". CNN. June 7, 2011.
  19. ^ Fukushima: It's much worse than you think – Features – Al Jazeera English
  20. ^ Nuclear Engineer: Japan's PM "Lying to the Japanese People" About Safety of Fukushima
  21. ^ Senate. Committee on Governmental Affairs (1994). Federal regulation of medical radiation uses: hearing before the Committee on Governmental Affairs, United States Senate, One Hundred Third Congress, first session, May 6, 1993. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 22. ISBN 9780160445750. Retrieved October 11, 2021.
  22. ^ "Jordi Roglans-Ribas | Argonne National Laboratory".
  23. ^ "Did Tesla Just Kill Nuclear Power?". Forbes.
  24. ^ "Infographic: Is Nuclear the Future of Energy? | in Our Nature | in Our Nature, based at Northwestern University, aims to engage and entertain readers with all aspects of the environment, nature and sustainability". Archived from the original on May 10, 2015. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  25. ^ "Experts debate the future of nuclear energy at Fossil Free NU event". May 2015.

External linksEdit