Lady Barbara Judge, the British-American hired to oversee the safety campaign of Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said that the company has changed enough from the previous leadership and so deserve to have their nuclear reactors restarted as soon as possible. TEPCO is the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant that was the site of a near catastrophic nuclear accident last 2011, the worst since Chernobyl.
The honorary chairman of the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority admits that while the change in leadership now looks very promising for the company, the fact that what they previously had was a “culture of efficiency” rather than a “culture of safety” might continue to plague them. But she believes that under her guidance, TEPCO will be adhering to world-class safety standards, especially as they push for the restart of the two reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, just northeast of Tokyo. She also is of the opinion that nuclear energy is still the best option for the country right now, as Japan is not a resource-rich area.
But TEPCO is facing a long battle ahead if they plan to apply for a restart of their reactors, particularly in the communities near the plant. After the Fukushima incident, the public is now more aware of the dangers and consequences of nuclear accidents and the utmost importance of ensuring the safety of the plant and the surrounding areas. Also, contrary to what Lady Judge is espousing, the Nuclear Regulation Authority believes that it will take a “long time” for Japanese utilities to acquire a culture of safety. NRA Head Shunichi Tanaka expects that this will not be a priority for most of the nuclear operators, as they seek to get their offline reactors approved for reactivation.
But Judge insists that the safety-oversight section she is adding to TEPCO will be respected and listened to within the company, unlike what happened in the previous administration. Skepticism abounds over this though, as the company is facing not just the prospect of restarting the reactors, but dealing with the consequences of the Fukushima meltdown, including losing a lot of money, facing numerous lawsuits from the affected residents, plus all other technical problems that comes with decommissioning a nuclear plant.
[ via The Republic ]
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