Japan Research and Analysis
through Internet Information

by Yasuharu Dando

Nuclear Power: How Electricity companies and the administration stray from common sense.
(March 2005) (Japanese edition:27/March/2005)...Japanese Blog Review 2

Kansai Electric Power Co. demoted company president Yosaku Fuji in response to the question of responsibility for the Mihama power plant accident last year where 5 men died and 6 men were injured. However Yoshihisa Akiyama, chairman of Kansai Electric, having continued in that postion for a year is rumoured to be a possible successor for Fuji when he steps down in June next year.

Meanwhile in the Hamaoka power plant lawsuit (well known for its Earthquake-Nuclear-disaster scenario) Shizuoka District court ordered pretty much a full disclosure of the earthquake resistance calculations relating to the nuclear reactor containment vessel as sought by the prosecutor. Hiding the values using the reason of commerical secrecy, as has been the case up to now, was not allowed and they were requisitioned in the public interest.

Both are good examples of how the world of nuclear electricity generation is still at odds with everyday thinking.

In The Engineer's Eye, "Mihama accident final report presented" Kansai Electric's negligence is described as "Changes made to the plumbing were not reproduced in the blueprints, the maitenance management neglecting their duties." "Even though the plumbing was judged to have a lifetime of under one year technological standards were interpreted on an individual basis and repairs neglected." Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' "The huge job of recording the list of tests was entrusted to a single employee, inviting mistakes." "Even though he noticed that passages had been lost from the list of tests, neglected to report this to Kansai Electric." That it is proposed to have a third party checking system established shows in practise that the administration is not trusted.

An old citizen's weblog, "Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, that really good enough?" : It is most likely a valid question. "Isn't The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency an organisation concerned with the safety system for the citizens, the country and companies all together?" "It is unsatisfactory that as companies are not upholding standards of the country then it is taken that the country has no responsibility and all falls on the companies' back. It is also necessary to persue why this sort of phenonemom is occurring." Passing off the matter as not the responsibility of the administration serves to increase suspicion.

Apparently one of those on the procecution side writes of his confidence in the court. "Earthquakes and Electricity Generation - Full Disclosure Order to Chubu Electric Power Inc. in Shizuoka trial" : With the data release, it becomes possible for a third party specialist to verify the earthquake resistance of the reactor room, surrounding equipment etc with respect to Tokai Earthquake. That is of enormous value, and at the same time the recognition of the safety of nuclear power generation by the court is can be said to be equally important to our position. It's a very reassuring development.

Chubu Electric Power Inc. might put up resistance, but verification not entrusted to the electric companies allows proper debate for the first time. It has been announced that Hamaoka Power Plant is to be reinforced against earthquake but verification is required to determine if it sufficies. If you consider the urgency of Tokai Earthquake scenario haste is in order.

What is being carried out in the Tokyo Electric educational tours of power plants? There's someone who participated, wanting to see inside a power plant, and reported back. "A field trip to Kashiwazaki Kariwa Electric Power Plant" The 'T' Family Diary : When I actually went, thanks to anti-terrorism measures and such we just circled round the buildings in a bus like in a safari park. To tell the truth it wasn't very interesting, but it's worth mentioning that for a participation fee of 8,000 yen the meals and hotel were luxurious. I was surprised that those taking the tour were mostly there for the second, third, whatever time. In addition to the luxury accomodation and meals there was a seafood souvenier of a crab in a box. It's worth recording as an example of an average person's view of the real thing.

It's difficult debating around nuclear industry issues, in the young generation there's a tendency to cry "lame!" and ignore it. Although protest groups revolving around nuclear power are aging we still might expect new developments if the number of people on the web who are enthusiastic for keeping an eye on local facilities increase.

(Special thanks to Mr. Paul Blay)

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