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Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant operators punished for negligent safeguards in Niigata – The Diplomat


The Tokyo report | Society | East Asia

A variety of safety-violating compounds are concerned that TEPCO has failed to learn lessons from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in an attempt to restart the Niigata nuclear power plant.

Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant operators were forced to delay reopening a separate facility in Niigata, western Japan after regulators discovered serious security loopholes. important.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) nuclear power plant in Niigata is being shut down due to lax anti-terrorism equipment and inadequate protection of nuclear material. The NRA (NRA) imposed a level four “red” warning against their security state after the device was found to malfunction in 15 different locations. basis. The equipment may have been damaged since March of last year, leaving the facility vulnerable to terrorist attacks or intruders. TEPCO security personnel are believed to be aware of the issue but do not act or notify top management.

Ten years after the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi forced more than 150,000 residents in northeastern Japan to leave their homes, ensuring nuclear safety remains a major challenge in Japan. Some areas around Fukushima Daiichi remain uninhabitable as radiation continues to leak from the paralyzed nuclear reactor. Although TEPCO has emphasized its commitment to raising safety awareness, it is worried that a sense of complacency prevalent before the Fukushima disaster has crept back.

The latest security breach follows a series of regulatory issues that are causing TEPCO. Last September, an employee used another employee’s ID without being allowed to enter the central control room at the Niigata facility.

The NRA pointed to the systemic problems behind bad corporate governance. They will continue to inspect the facility to determine the cause and background of the breaches, and whether the problems are caused by TEPCO and TEPCO’s attitude toward safety. The additional inspections are expected to take at least a year.

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The NRA said the safety breaches were in violation of the Nuclear Reactor Regulations Act and required TEPCO to submit a written explanation by April 7. TEPCO said it had accepted the NRA’s order to suspend operations but could not give an explanation. TEPCO’s license to operate is dependent on passing the NRA’s ongoing safety tests, which will determine whether the safety flaws have been corrected. This is the first time that a regulator in Japan has ordered disciplinary action against a commercial nuclear plant operator.

Last month, Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide commented that the latest safety breach raised doubts about TEPCO’s ability to handle nuclear power plants. He called the incident “regrettable” and urged TEPCO to respond to the inspection results and take drastic measures to improve the management structure.

The delusion of achieving absolute nuclear safety collapsed after the Fukushima and nuclear incident safety legend has once again been the focus of discussion about the future of nuclear power plant businesses. Governor Niigata met with the NRA director on April 5 to urge a re-evaluation of the NRA’s safety approval for 6 and 7 principals at the Niigata nuclear power plant, which was originally reissued in 2017. The TEPCO President apologized for causing “the distrust of the local public” and pledged to “take all possible measures” to prevent similar problems from recurring.

The NRA was established as Japan’s nuclear watchdog in 2012 in response to the Fukushima nuclear incident, but it is not clear whether stricter safety requirements result in significant improvements. tell the country’s nuclear management or not.

The Constitutional Democrats have criticized TEPCO for failing to learn from its past mistakes at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and calling TEPCO “ineligible” to be held accountable.

The Niigata nuclear power plant has been shut down since 2012 but TEPCO is preparing final steps to reopen before shutting down. The NRA’s decision is a major setback for the company. TEPCO is desperate to rebuild its business as it has to deal with the cost of a mammoth decommissioning in Fukushima and civil lawsuits awaiting damages. TEPCO’s chairman said he and three other executives will voluntarily cut their monthly salary by 30% for six months.

TEPCO has conducted its own investigation of the cause of the safety gaps and will submit its findings to the NRA in September.

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