Editer l'article Suivre ce blog Administration + Créer mon blog
Le blog de fukushima-is-still-news

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

Money and nukes Feb 13, 2012

February 13, 2012

Professor who promoted lenient standards for nuclear containers received donations


A Tokyo Institute of Technology professor received a large amount of donations from engineering firm OCL Corp. before he promoted lenient inspection standards for spent nuclear fuel casks that the company produced, the Mainichi has learned.

Professor Masanori Aritomi was the driving force behind the standards, which favored OCL Corp. The Atomic Energy Society of Japan (AESJ) adopted the standards for inspections of transportation casks.

The finding highlights campaigns by proponents of the so-called "nuclear village" establishment to adopt such lax standards -- rather than the national standards -- to their advantage.

According to minutes of the AESJ's deliberations and people familiar with the issue, the AESJ decided on the inspection standards, also known as "AESJ standards," to apply to the safe design and inspections of transportation casks for spent fuel, new mixed oxide fuel and high-level radioactive waste. After soliciting opinions from the public, the government will formally set new standards this year.

The AESJ normally comes up with its own atomic energy-related standards after a sectional committee writes a draft that is then checked by experts and standards committees. The society's panel on nuclear fuel transportation casks began deliberations in 2010. The deliberations were held at OCL's conference room and the draft was drawn up by a member of the panel from OCL.

Aritomi served as head of the panel on transportation casks and its umbrella organization, the nuclear fuel cycle department. He also took on the position of deputy chairman of the decision-making standards committee.

Tokyo Institute of Technology records show that Aritomi received a total of 14.85 million yen in scholarship donations from OCL between fiscal 2006 and 2010. Another researcher, a Tokyo Institute of Technology associate professor and a member of the sectional committee, received a 1 million yen scholarship donation in fiscal 2010.

The deliberations focused on whether heat transfer inspections to check how heat stemming from spent nuclear fuel would be transmitted to casks should be conducted on all new casks. The AESJ draft says sample inspections are acceptable so long as cask manufacturers have a good track record, but the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) is demanding inspections of all transportation casks. During a meeting of experts in June last year, a safety examiner from NISA expressed the agency's opposition to sample inspections.

In spite of the opposition, however, the lenient inspection standards were approved by an overwhelming majority through balloting by members of the standards committee between Dec. 23 last year and Jan. 19 this year, with only a member from NISA dissenting. A member from the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization abstained.

According to experts familiar with transportation casks, a large transportation cask can store as many as 38 spent nuclear fuel rods. Heat transfer inspections impose a heavy financial burden on the manufacturers because the number of electric heaters they have to install has to match the number of spent nuclear fuel rods.

Aritomi told the Mainichi he has no intention of deliberately siding with OCL.

"If all transportation casks are checked, shipments will slow down and the processing of spent fuel will not progress," he said. "We, the AESJ, determined that sample inspections were OK."

However, when asked about his involvement in the entire decision-making process, he said, "It cannot be helped if suspicion is raised over my neutrality. I think I should resign at least as the head of the sectional committee or deputy chairman of the standards committee."

Nevertheless, Aritomi also argued: "Unlike nuclear reactors, the transportation cask is not something which you can write a thesis about, and there are not many researchers. I realized there were many problems with the deliberation structure, but there were few people who could get involved."

OCL Managing Director Kazuo Kawakami dismissed any suspicions arising over the issue, saying, "The committee is operating in accordance with the principles of fairness, justice and openness, and does not cause any suspicion."

A NISA official commented, "Transportation casks should be subject to tough standards because they are transported near citizens. We cannot adopt the (AESJ) standards as government standards."

Aritomi was appointed as an adviser to the Cabinet Secretariat by then Prime Minister Naoto Kan shortly after the outbreak of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.


Government approves additional funds for TEPCO


Japan's industry minister has warned Tokyo Electric Power Company, operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, that it must accept state control in order to get a capital injection.

Yukio Edano told TEPCO President Toshio Nishizawa on Monday that the company will not receive public money unless the government gets adequate voting rights in return.

He said the government will not otherwise accept the business revival plan the utility is to submit by the end of March. TEPCO needs a large amount of financial aid to cover compensation payments to victims of the nuclear disaster at the plant and for alternative thermal power generation in place of nuclear energy.

Nishizawa said TEPCO will bear the government's requirement in mind in working out its revival plan.

The president told reporters after the meeting that his company will discuss details of a capital injection request with a government-backed organization for the victims.

Providing that it acquires the voting rights, the government has decided to give the utility nearly 9-billion dollars in additional financial aid to be used for compensation payments. The money is separate from the proposed capital injection fund for TEPCO.

Partager cet article
Pour être informé des derniers articles, inscrivez vous :
Commenter cet article