[T]he type of containment vessel and pressure suppression system used in the failing reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant — and in 23 American reactors at 16 plants — is physically less robust [than most reactors in the world], and it has long been thought to be more susceptible to failure in an emergency than competing designs.
G.E. began making the Mark 1 boiling water reactors in the 1960s, marketing them as cheaper and easier to build — in part because they used a comparatively smaller and less expensive containment structure.
American regulators began identifying weaknesses very early on.
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