13 Septembre 2012
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it has set up teams to reform its nuclear division, a move viewed by some as laying the groundwork for the restart of idled reactors amid the disaster at its Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
The teams include a supervisory panel consisting of former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Dale Klein and management consultant Kenichi Omae among others, as well as a task force headed by Tepco President Naomi Hirose to implement the reform steps.
"The mission of this task force is to build an organization for nuclear plant management that has the world's highest level of safety awareness and technical ability," Hirose told a news conference Tuesday at the company's head office.
The panel will work with another project team that will study investigative reports released by a government-appointed committee and other entities on the Fukushima crisis.
Tepco will compile by the end of the year specific plans to reform its nuclear division, which has been criticized for lacking transparency, Hirose added.
He denied the purpose of the teams is to ensure the restart of the utility's idled reactors at the seven-reactor Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture but suggested that carrying out reforms would be a minimum requirement to seek the OK to bring its reactors online.
"We are aware that restarting the reactors would not be allowed by the people in Niigata unless we properly do these things," Hirose said.
The need to restart idled reactors was stipulated in a 10-year comprehensive special business plan for Tepco, which is struggling to compensate victims of the nuclear disaster and pay rising fuel costs for thermal power generation to make up for the halt in nuclear power.
Restarting reactors is not an easy task for utilities amid strong public nuclear safety fears. The Niigata complex was halted by a strong quake in 2007, and in 2003 as part of an overall Tepco reactor shutdown amid a scandal over falsified safety inspections.
Meanwhile, Tepco disclosed 600 new photos taken after the Fukushima plant was struck by the huge quake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, which triggered the three meltdowns at the site.
The pictures include images of evacuation scenes, flooded power source rooms, and reactor buildings shortly after the hydrogen explosions. Tepco said it asked other firms working with the utility to submit photos if any of their employees had taken them at the time.
Tepco spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said it took 18 months to disclose these pictures because they had to be checked carefully to make sure they did not violate nuclear security.