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Lawyers to check on TEPCO

February 19, 2013


TEPCO forms 3rd-party verification panel over false info to block on-site reactor probe



Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) set up a third-party verification panel on Feb. 18 to examine why and how the utility firm gave false information to block an attempt by a Diet-appointed investigative panel to enter the No. 1 reactor building at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

The third-party panel plans to hold its first meeting on Feb. 21. The panel is to investigate why and how TEPCO, the operator of the troubled Fukushima nuclear power station, gave false information last year to block the Diet-appointed panel from conducting on-site inspections of the reactor building as well as whether senior TEPCO officials were involved in the wrongdoing.

The verification panel, which is comprised of three lawyers, is headed by Yasuhisa Tanaka, former justice chief of the Sendai High Court. Two other lawyers on the panel are Zenzo Sasaki, former chief prosecutor at the Kyoto District Prosecutors Office, and Takashi Kondo, professor at Omiya Law School. On the selection of the three lawyers, Masayuki Ono, acting head of TEPCO's nuclear power and facilities section, told a news conference, "We selected legal experts who had not been involved in the management of our company."

In February 2012, the Diet-appointed panel tasked with investigating the Fukushima nuclear disaster asked TEPCO to allow its members to conduct an on-site inspection of the inside of the fourth floor of the No. 1 reactor building to check the emergency isolation condenser -- a key component behind the outbreak of the accident at the No. 1 reactor. But TEPCO told the panel, "It is completely dark inside the reactor building." Therefore, the panel decided not to conduct the inspection. But in fact, sunlight penetrated the inside of the reactor building.


February 18, 2013


Panel to look into TEPCO's alleged falsifications



The operator of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has launched a third-party committee to look into alleged false explanations by the company of conditions inside one of the reactors.

The move follows accusations by a former Diet panel member that the company's explanation was aimed at blocking an on-site probe at the plant.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, set up the committee on Monday. It is led by a former judge, Yasuhisa Tanaka.

Earlier this month former panel member Mitsuhiko Tanaka accused TEPCO of having lied in February of last year about the state of the plant's number one reactor. The Diet panel was planning an on-site survey at the time.

Mitsuhiko Tanaka says the panel had to give up the survey because the TEPCO officials said it was too dangerous to work inside the reactor, which they described as pitch-dark. He is demanding that the Diet look into the matter.

TEPCO denies that the officials handling the matter lied, saying rather that their perception of the situation was wrong.

The new panel will determine whether or not the officials lied and how TEPCO responded to the call for the survey.
TEPCO says the company will not become involved in the panel's investigation but will cooperate with it. The company says it will make public the findings of the investigation as soon as possible.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority says it wants to meet former panel member Tanaka's request for a survey of the reactor, but has as yet made no plan to do so due to high radiation levels.

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