Greenpeace: Japan's Nuclear Regulator Failing to Ensure Safety of Takahama

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Takahama reactors

Tokyo- (PanOrient News) Greenpeace and Green Action today accused Japan’s Nuclear Regulator (NRA) of failing to ensure that critically important electric cabling inside the Takahama reactors meet safety standards. Kansai Electric plans to restart Takahama 3, located on Wakasa Bay in Fukui prefecture, on January 29th. But, in a statement from GreenPeace, representatives of the NRA admitted at a meeting held in the National Diet on January 21st, that they do not know whether Takahama 3&4 reactors are in violation of their own fire safety regulations.

The NRA has ordered all nuclear plant operators in Japan except for Takahama and Sendai, to provide reports on the status of cable separation at their reactors before the end of March.

In March 2015, the Nuclear Regulatory Agency assured the Union of Kansai Governments that the reactors would be in compliance with nuclear safety regulations. The Union, made up of eight prefectural governments and four cities - representing 22 million people living in the greater Kansai region, has challenged the restart process for the Takahama reactors.

“This latest example of complete negligence by the NRA just days before the Takahama unit 3 reactor is scheduled to restart is wholly unacceptable. It's like allowing an airliner packed with passengers to take off without knowing whether the fuel lines and the control wires are crossed. If an accident happens, the power and backup safety systems could be taken out at once, and the plane is going down. While the NRA may be content to allow the Takahama safety cables to remain in the black box, the public deserves to know what’s inside before their lives and livelihoods are put at significant risk,” said Kendra Ulrich, Senior Global Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace Japan.

“The fact the Japanese government, in its efforts to neutralise the mounting opposition to restart from the Union Kansai Governments, told them last March that the plant complied with their regulations shows both the level of incompetence and deception at the heart of Japan's nuclear industry,” said Aileen Mioko Smith, Director, Green Action, Kyoto. “The NRA are clearly not being honest or transparent about what they know about this issue. When completing their overall assessment of the safety design of the Takahama reactors in August last year, did they not verify compliance with their regulations during this process? If not, why not?” said Smith.

The safety-related cabling in a reactor must be separated to ensure that in the event of fire or other singular incident, critical redundant safety systems and power supplies are not lost. If the cabling is not adequately separated by physical distance, cabling trays, and fire barriers in accordance with regulations, it would pose a major risk to reactor safety – including the risk of a losing cooling systems which could lead to a core meltdown.

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