Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) – operator of the disaster stricken Fukushima nuclear power facility – must give a more detailed account of the Fukushima disaster and address the long string of incidents where critical information was manipulated and mishandled before it will be permitted to restart the Kashiwazaki Kariwa plant, according the governor of the area. Niigata Prefecture Governor Hirohiko Izumida calls TEPCO’s process “institutionalized lying”, and he would like to see the company handle these issues before restarting from its mothballed state what is the world’s biggest nuclear complex, located on the Japan Sea coast, north-west of Tokyo.
“If they don’t do what needs to be done, if they keep skimping on costs and manipulating information, they can never be trusted,” Izumida said on Monday. The approval to restart the reactor at the TEPCO-run Kashiwazaki Kariwa is in Izumida’s hands, and his personal commission would like to make sure that the disaster at Fukushima would not be repeated in their area. The commission will look at the failed safety precautions at Fukushima and lay them alongside existing regulatory safeguards to ensure a similar crisis could not reoccur. “If they cooperate with us, we will be able to proceed smoothly. If not, we won’t,” he said.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority – Japanese nuclear safety regulators – must lend their approval to the restart plans, but Izumida remains able to essentially block TEPCO’s plans for the plant as the facility requires the backing of local officials, giving Izumida and his office some leverage. “Safety is our utmost priority and we are not acting on an assumption of nuclear restarts,” said Yoshimi Hitotsugi, spokesperson for the embattled operator. “We want to work on this issue while gaining the understanding of the local population and related parties.” Izumida is one of those who are of the opinion that TEPCO should be stripped of responsibility for decommissioning the destroyed Fukushima reactors, and the company subjected to a taxpayer-funded bankruptcy program. “Unless we create a situation where 80-90 percent of their thinking is devoted to nuclear safety, I don’t think we can say they have prioritized safety,” he said.