10 Septembre 2012
September 10, 2012
Transfer of nuclear emergency center delayed
The emergency operations center of Japan's new nuclear regulatory commission will not be ready when the body is inaugurated later this month.
The government plans to set up the nuclear watchdog by the end of September.
It is a replacement for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, which is part of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The ministry has promoted nuclear energy development.
Most of the staff and functions of the new commission are to be moved from the ministry's offices in the Kasumigaseki district to a building in Roppongi around the middle of this month.
But, the emergency operations center will remain in Kasugimaseki for some more months. The center has a system that tracks the current conditions of nuclear reactors across the county. It also has telephone hot lines to the Prime Minister's official residence and the offices of prefectures with nuclear plants.
A preparatory office of the new commission says the moving delay will not cause problems as staff members can get back to Kasumigaseki within 30 minutes in the event of an emergency.
Professor Emeritus Hirotada Hirose of Tokyo Woman's Christian University says it is critical to collect data and act immediately in a nuclear emergency, and that it's not clear if all staff can actually turn up in 30 minutes. He says the delay in moving indicates the government has not fully absorbed the lessons from last year's accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.