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All set for re-born TEPCO

March 30, 2013



TEPCO to get watchdog division / Plans to establish new division specializing in enhancing nuclear safety



Tokyo Electric Power Co. is expected to establish a new division specializing in enhancing nuclear safety under the direct control of its board of directors, the company said in the final draft of its plan for nuclear power safety reform released Friday.

The utility also admitted to inadequate preparation and the weakness of its executives' risk management at the time of the crisis at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The draft was submitted to the Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee, a third-party supervisory panel led by former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Dale Klein, and was approved by the panel on the day.

The draft said the company will invite an outsider to be chief of the new division, to be named the nuclear power safety observation office. The office is independent of TEPCO's other nuclear power-related departments and will likely observe and provide advice on the company's actions aimed at improving safety.

Regarding the fact that TEPCO gave false explanations about the crisis at the plant to the Diet's Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission and that it took three hours for the company to announce a blackout at the plant on March 18, the draft concludes TEPCO was "insensitive to the feelings of people living near the plant and created anxiety among them."

To solve those problems, TEPCO will invite a public relations specialist from outside the company and set up a "social communication office" that aims to smoothly disclose information to the public and raise employees' awareness.

The draft also incorporates lessons learned from the confusion in the chain of command for the nuclear plant at the time of the crisis. It promises to greatly strengthen the power of the directors of nuclear power plants and to clarify the command structure to be used in cases of emergency.



March 29, 2013


Tokyo Electric compiles reform plan



Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, has compiled a reform plan based on lessons learned from the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

A third-party panel set up by TEPCO approved on Friday the plan drawn up by an in-house task force.

TEPCO launched the task force after it was criticized for defending its response to the accident in a report it put together following an internal probe.

The task force says the company should not put all the blame for the accident on the huge tsunami that hit the plant on March 11th, 2011. It concluded that the accident would have been preventable if the company had been fully prepared for the tsunami.

The reform plan includes 6 measures to address issues that came to light in the accident.

One measure is the creation of an independent, in-house supervising body to keep watch on the company's approach to safety. The task force criticizes the company for pursuing economic efficiency and not putting enough effort into risk management.

Another is to clarify the chain of command in case of an emergency. The number of people that one supervisor can manage will be limited to 7 people to make sure that everyone is up to date in the event of a crisis.

The task force also says the company was reluctant to disclose risks associated with nuclear power plants and it calls for assigning "risk communicators" who will advise the management and nuclear division chiefs.

The reform plan is an apparent effort to persuade authorities and the public to agree to allow it to resume operations of the Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear plant along the Japan Sea coast in Niigata Prefecture.

But TEPCO President Naomi Hirose ruled out speculation that the reform plan is intended to help restart the Kashiwazaki Kariwa plant soon.

Hirose promised to rid his company of arrogance and carry out drastic reforms to ensure nuclear safety. He said if the company fails to do this, it does not have the right to operate nuclear plants.

The head of the third-party panel, Dale Klein, said TEPCO has acknowledged its mistakes and come up with the reform plan so it will not cause a similar accident.

He said the company has just started a long journey for reform and that he and other panel members will keep watching its efforts.

Mar. 29, 2013 - Updated 10:59 UTC (19:59 JST)

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