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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

NRA should explain its decision

October 4, 2017


NRA questioned TEPCO's fitness to run plant




Japan's nuclear regulator interviewed executives of Tokyo Electric Power Company in July after the utility's corporate culture was called into question.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority took the unusual step of looking into whether TEPCO was qualified to restart another nuclear plant.

The operator kept quiet about the meltdowns at its Fukushima Daiichi plant for more than 2 months after the accident in March 2011. It has also been criticized for giving misleading information about the ability of emergency facilities at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture to resist earthquakes.

During the interview of executives, Shunichi Tanaka, the NRA's chairman at the time, criticized TEPCO. He said it wouldn't be qualified to operate a nuclear plant unless it showed its determination to decommission the Fukushima reactors and to produce results. He also asked TEPCO to respond in writing.

In a statement submitted in August, TEPCO said it was tackling the matter and expressed its resolve to complete the decommissioning.

But the document failed to outline any concrete plans. Despite that, the NRA decided to recognize TEPCO as a qualified nuclear plant operator. But it was on condition that TEPCO make clear in its safety code that it was resolved to decommission the Fukushima plant and prioritize safety over economic efficiency in its operation.

Now that the regulator has effectively judged that TEPCO's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant has met the new safety requirements, observers say the regulator should give the public an understandable explanation of its screening process.

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