Brit Liggett

Advisors in Japan Say Post-Disaster Nuclear Checks are "Insufficient"

by , 01/27/12
filed under: News, Policy, Renewable Energy

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Despite the rush to get reactors back online and convince the public that Japan’s nuclear power generation facilities are safe, an advisor says the current checks of nuclear reactors in the country are “insufficient” and possibly unsafe. Hiromitsu Ino, Professor Emeritus at the University of Tokyo told the press yesterday that the Japanese government is using the same system to check the status of nuclear reactors now that it did before the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster last spring. The testing system was blamed in part for the crisis – critics say it didn’t go into enough detail on what would happen in case of a multiple-front natural disaster. This isn’t the first time the Japanese authorities have been called into question while handling the post-disaster situation; in December they announced a very controversial “cold shutdown” of the Fukushima nuclear reactor even though experts worldwide spoke out against the decision.

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“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,” Ino, a government advisor, announced to the press while speaking in Tokyo. “The tests are nothing but an optimistic desk simulation based on the assumption that everything will happen exactly as assumed,” said Masashi Goto, another government advisor that used to design reactors said. Goto said that the tests don’t include any margin for human error, design flaws or any combination of the two in addition to leaving out simulations that involve multiple natural disasters at once like the tsunami and earthquake that rocked the reactors last spring.

Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) said they had no plans to change the testing criteria, despite the warnings from their advisors. “We are doing the best we can to reflect reality,” Tatsuya Taguchi, a NISA official told Bloomberg News by phone. Ino and Goto also revealed that the company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., which makes nuclear equipment, runs the disaster simulations and then passes them on to be reviewed by the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization which then gives the data to NISA. The Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization employs former Mitsubishi Heavy Staff, a connection that is clearly a conflict of interest for all involved in the safety testing.

“Individuals and organizations that have vested interests are reviewing themselves and under this regime a proper assessment cannot be made,” Ino noted in his speech. Ino and Goto’s announcement brings to light possible inherent dangers in Japan’s nuclear industry at a time when the government is desperately trying to bring closed reactors back online.

Via Bloomberg News

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