After the litany of problems and incidents surrounding the decommissioning of the disaster-stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) is set to increase its monitoring of the decommissioning process. Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the plant’s operator and the main culprit of these incidents, have been heavily criticized at the way they have gone about the process. More recently, the embattled utility operator came under fire again as reports arose that radioactive groundwater from under the plant was actually leaking out into the ocean.
The NRA is putting together two dedicated teams to investigate the situation around the water contamination, and more importantly, its impact on the ocean’s ecosystem – this according to an NRA official. “We still don’t know the root cause of the problems as they are more complicated than initially thought,” the official added. The formal announcement of the new monitoring and investigative teams is expected tomorrow, with the teams expected to be made up of experts from NRA, TEPCO and a government-backed research institute.
These days, the NRA has largely been focusing on concentrated on another controversial issue, which is the safety of restarting Japan’s 48 other nuclear reactors – just two of the 50 in total are running right now. By and large, TEPCO has been the main organization in charge of the decommissioning and clean-up of the melted-down Fukushima reactors, which were hit to disastrous effects by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Last week, the utility admitted for the first time that radioactive groundwater had been leaking into the ocean outside the nuclear facility, confirming suspicions of ocean contamination long-held by Fukushima residents.
On Friday, a pair of foreign nuclear experts commissioned by a Fukushima monitoring panel, bluntly criticized TEPCO over its lack of transparency. It “appears that you are not keeping the people of Japan informed”, Dale Klein, former head of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told TEPCO. “These actions indicate that you don’t know what you are doing, you do not have a plan and that you are not doing all you can to protect the environment and the people,” he added.
[via Business Standard]