Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority was launched in September to keep a closer watch on the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi plant and TEPCO's work there—but what was supposed to be a more independent, tougher regulator is simply running "the same old routine," says an investigator. The NRA is just rubber-stamping TEPCO's work, say investigators, who revealed their concerns in testimony today before a government nuclear committee—the first such testimony since their report in July, the AP notes. Regulators "make a risk assessment, submit their plans to the government, and they're approved."
"The public is extremely concerned," says one member of the 10-investigator-strong team. "Regulators should demonstrate they can properly carry out a decades-long decommissioning process." The testimony follows multiple cooling failures, including one Friday that preceded the announcement of a major leak of up to 120 tons of extremely contaminated water, which flowed out of a temporary underground tank; another tank leaked as well. TEPCO yesterday admitted that it waved off early indications of water loss as a margin of error, and didn't react until radiation levels spiked around the tank. It believes the water didn't reach the ocean. (Read more Tepco stories.)