Fukushima Watchdog Doing Crummy Job: Experts

Regulators routinely approve TEPCO plans: investigators
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 8, 2013 11:49 AM CDT
Fukushima Watchdog Doing Crummy Job: Experts
This March 11, 2012 file photo shows storage tanks for radiation-contaminated water in the compound of the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News, File)

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. (More Tepco stories.)

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