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2014年1月27日 (月)

敦賀原発活断層 規制委は科学的判断に徹せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun January 26, 2014
NRA must base N-plant safety on purely scientific assessments
敦賀原発活断層 規制委は科学的判断に徹せよ(1月26日付・読売社説)

The Nuclear Regulation Authority will be tested as to whether it can make a swift, impartial judgment on the safety of Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tsuruga nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture.

The NRA finished a two-day follow-up investigation into a fault beneath the compound of the nuclear power plant.

In May last year, the NRA compiled a safety evaluation report that concluded a D-1 fault, a zone containing rock fragments that runs just beneath reactor No. 2 of the nuclear complex, was an active fault, increasing the likelihood that the reactor would not be restarted. Construction of a nuclear plant immediately above an active fault is banned by law.

However, Japan Atomic Power came up with a set of new data in July on the situation in an effort to have the NRA reassess its original conclusion, leading after much delay to the Jan. 20-21 follow-up investigation.

Based on the new investigation, the NRA is scheduled to hold a meeting of the panel of experts that compiled the report in May to sift through the new set of data. Fair and objective discussions by the experts must take place.

Japan Atomic Power has insisted that on the basis of its own investigation the fault was formed “in the distant past,” indicating that the fault is unlikely to become active in the future.

The NRA believes the D-1 fault could move in conjunction with a confirmed active fault at the northern extremity of the D-1. According to the company, however, an additional trenching survey it conducted determined that the two faults were not connected.

The key element of the NRA evaluation report has therefore been called into question, with a number of experts supporting the plant operator’s argument.

Self-righteous attitude

Although Japan Atomic Power called on the NRA not to release its evaluation report before completing the operator’s own investigation, NRA Acting Chairman Kunihiko Shimazaki forged ahead, saying, “We consider it fortunate that no accident has occurred yet.” We cannot help but consider his conclusion to be a result of muddled thinking.

As the NRA wasted about six months before undertaking the new investigation, Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa took the NRA to task and said it should take responsibility for the delay.

The NRA must proceed with the reassessment promptly, and it should listen to all opinions, even those critical of the authority.

The furor over the Tsuruga plant’s fault seems to be a result of the clumsy way the NRA is operated, as pointed out by a Liberal Democratic Party study team in a set of proposals presented toward the end of last year to the government and the NRA.

The NRA is a collegial body comprising the chairman and four members. As far as earthquake hazards are concerned, however, Shimazaki, a seismological expert, has the decisive say. All seismological experts in charge of assessing nuclear power plant safety in the past have been excluded from the current body.

In the safety assessment process to determine whether to allow reactivation of idled reactors across the country, the NRA has called on power utilities to make safety assessments by taking it for granted that an active fault can move in conjunction with another fault adjoining it. In addition, the NRA has taken the position of refusing to accept any data from utilities if they point out the possibility of a fault not being in conjunction with another fault.

The NRA faces mounting criticism that it lacks impartiality and tends to have a self-righteous attitude.

We wonder if the safety assessment process has been protracted longer than initially expected due in part to such a posture.

Measures based on unbiased, scientific discussions are essential to enhance the safety of nuclear plant operations. The NRA is urgently in need of reorganization.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 26, 2014)
(2014年1月26日01時11分  読売新聞)


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