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HOME  > Past issues  > 2011 September 28 - October 4  > NISA fails to play role in regulating nuclear safety
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2011 September 28 - October 4 [NUCLEAR CRISIS]

NISA fails to play role in regulating nuclear safety

October 2, 2011
Akahta editorial (excerpts)

An independent panel established by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) on September 30 released a final report which indicates that the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) and the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) had urged power companies to organize a pro-nuclear turnout at state-sponsored symposiums regarding nuclear power generation. It is critical of the fact that the government’s organizations dealing with nuclear power generation instructed the utilities to manipulate public opinion. If such collusive practices are normal operating procedure for NISA and ANRE, they are unqualified to be administrative organs ensuring public safety.

The METI’s panel investigated the state-sponsored symposiums held by seven power companies for the past five years following the revelation that in June, Kyushu Electric Power Co. ordered its employees to send e-mails supportive of the restart of its Genkai Nuclear Power Plant to a local cable TV station which broadcasted a state-sponsored symposium regarding the resumption matter.

The panel found that at seven symposiums held by five power companies of Hokkaido, Tohoku, Chubu, Chugoku, and Kyushu, public opinion was manipulated by the governmental organs. But this is just a tip of the iceberg.

As the panel’s report states that “mutually dependent relations” between the METI and the power companies are the “major cause of inappropriate behavior,” ugly relations between the power industry and the government promoting the construction of NPPs are emerging as a serious problem.

The NISA has a role to control NPP operators in order to secure the safety of nuclear power generation. It is unforgivable that the NISA tried to maneuver public opinion by instructing NPP operators to instruct their employees to attend and influence the outcome of a symposium organized by the state to respond to people’s anxieties about nuclear energy. It is also obvious that the NISA has only superficially imposed restrictions on the NPP operators.

The root cause of the problem is that the NISA exists as a department of the METI and fails to play a role as an independent regulatory organ. It is impossible to ensure the safety of nuclear power generation unless an independent regulatory organ is established.

At the moment, a controversy exists whether to restart operations of nuclear reactors which are undergoing regular inspections. It is absolutely absurd to rush the resumption of operations while the causes of the Fukushima nuclear accident have yet to be determined and an effective body to regulate nuclear power generation has yet to be established.

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