原子力規制委 安全確認の基準作りを急げ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 22, 2012)
New N-body must quickly create safety guidelines
原子力規制委 安全確認の基準作りを急げ(9月21日付・読売社説)

It is urgently necessary for the new regulatory body to restore public trust in the administration of nuclear safety, which has been damaged by the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority, which was launched Wednesday, and its secretariat organ, the nuclear regulatory agency, bear heavy responsibilities in this regard.

In launching the new authority, regulatory divisions that had been overseen by several ministry and agency bodies have been absorbed into the new entity. The new authority has also been separated from the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and other government bodies that promoted nuclear power generation.

The new authority is an organ set up in line with Article 3 of the National Government Organization Law, and it has a high degree of autonomy from politics.

What is required for the new entity is, first and foremost, to make objective and rigorous judgments on whether the safety of each nuclear power plant can be ensured, based on its technical knowledge and expertise.

The new authority, comprised of chairman Shunichi Tanaka and four commissioners, must hammer out safety guidelines and establish effective inspection protocols as soon as possible.


Idle plants need to be restarted

Except for the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors of Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi nuclear power plant, where operations were restarted in July, the other 48 nuclear reactors in the nation remain idle.

This situation was caused by the provisional guidelines the government set for restarting suspended operations of nuclear reactors. Taking lessons from the Fukushima crisis, the government imposed emergency safety requirements, such as improved measures to secure power in emergencies, on the nuclear plants.

In addition, the government ordered utility companies to conduct stress tests at nuclear plants. The tests were introduced by former Prime Minister Naoto Kan, an advocate of abandoning nuclear power, and have no legal grounds.

Although test results on 30 nuclear reactors have been submitted, most of the results have yet to be examined. These results have been passed on to the new regulatory authority.

It is necessary to correct this half-hearted situation.

Tanaka said at a press conference: “Stress tests are politically motivated. I won’t stick to them.”

We consider this remark reasonable, given that stress tests are not a condition for restarting nuclear reactors in the United States or Europe.

It is also understandable that he showed an intention to improve disaster prevention systems and look into whether existing safety measures are flawed.


Timing is important

The problem is how much time the new authority will spend in compiling safety guidelines and making safety assessments.

Hokkaido Electric Power Co. has expressed serious concerns over whether winter electricity supplies will meet demand without the restart of nuclear reactors. But Tanaka said, “It will probably be difficult [to restart] by year-end.” He also said, “I’m not going to take electricity supply and demand into account.”

Surely, it is not acceptable to make snap decisions on matters concerning safety measures. But if the new authority postpones making judgments by giving too much weight to thoughtless calls to abandon nuclear power, which likely will have a negative impact on industry and the people’s daily lives with blackouts, the role of the authority itself will be put into question.

The new authority is facing a number of tasks, such as establishing measures to ensure safety at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant while its reactors are decommissioned and studying the feasibility of decommissioning reactors after 40 years of operation.

There has been criticism over the fact that Diet approval has yet to be given to the government’s appointments of members of the new authority. But nothing is more important for them than steadily fulfilling their duties and producing tangible results.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 21, 2012)
(2012年9月21日01時40分 読売新聞)

srachai について

early retired civil engineer migrated from Tokyo to Thailand
カテゴリー: 英字新聞 パーマリンク



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