Nuclear watchdog admits inappropriate handling of long-term power loss issues

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Newly released documents show that the Japanese Nuclear Safety Commission and Utilities were working to minimize risk assessments together in 1992 to show that no safety measures were necessary to deal with a long term complete power loss at nuclear power plants.

According to newly unveiled materials, the commission’s secretariat, at that time part of the Science and Technology Agency, asked utilities in a document dated October 1992 to “write a composition” on why there was no need to consider measures to counter station blackouts lasting longer than 30 minutes.

According to NSC, the power industry had stood against an attempt to revise the safety guidelines in those days, saying things like: “It is proper to conclude that we expect the power companies to make efforts in the future,” and “the risk (of a long-term power loss) is rather low, and therefore it is too much to reflect it in the guidelines.”

Tepco responded that “sufficient safety will be secured” as long as nuclear plants are controlled properly, touching on the reliability of emergency power sources at that time.

Kansai Electric Power Co. also said the risks of power loss are extremely low and measures to deal with such risks need not be included in the guideline.

The views expressed by the power industry were eventually incorporated almost word for word into the report prepared by the commission, and as a result of this, NSC decided not to revise the country’s nuclear safety guidelines.

Haruki Madarame, who chaired the commission, apologized over the issue, saying it was inappropriate to have power companies play a part in creating the original guideline draft.

Although NSC was aware of the internal documents in question in June last year, it did not release them. The secretariat said, “We had been proceeding with preparations to release them, but we were busy with other work.”

Source: The Mainichi

Source: The Japan Times

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