IAEA approves Japan’s post-Fukushima reactor checks – faulty criteria and conflict of interest

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Japan on Thursday welcomed an International Atomic Energy Agency delegation it invited to check safety procedures at its third-largest nuclear-power plant, a move designed to pave the way for the restart of dozens of idled reactors around the country.  Japan will lose its last nuclear- generated power in April at the current rate of shutting down reactors for safety checks.

With one exception, no reactors taken off-line since the March 11 disaster have been allowed to restart as they await results of so-called stress tests.   But two government advisers on the checks said Japan’s safety review of nuclear reactors after the Fukushima disaster is based on faulty criteria and many people involved have conflicts of interest.


“The tests are nothing but an optimistic desk simulation based on the assumption that everything will happen exactly as assumed,” said Masashi Goto, a former reactor designer,  adding that they don’t include margins for human error, design flaws or combinations of both.

“The whole process being undertaken is exactly the same as that used previous to the Fukushima Dai-Ichi accident, even though the accident showed all these guidelines and categories to be insufficient,” Hiromitsu Ino, Professor Emeritus at the University of Tokyo, said at a briefing in Tokyo today.

“Individuals and organizations that have vested interests are reviewing themselves and under this regime a proper assessment cannot be made,” Ino said.  “If there was a real discussion then the stress tests would be a good forum” for assessing the risks and rewards of nuclear power, Ino said. “As it is, the stress tests are just being used to restart reactors.”

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (7011), a maker of nuclear plant equipment, runs the disaster simulations for the utilities, which pass the results to NISA, Ino and Goto said. The reports are reviewed by the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization, which employs former Mitsubishi Heavy staff, raising a potential conflict of interest, they said.


Source: Christian Science Monitor

Source: Bloomberg


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