« グレーゾーン 切れ目ない事態対処を可能に | トップページ | 原子力規制委―人事で役割ゆがめるな »

2014年5月29日 (木)

規制委人事案 科学的な原発審査につなげよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun 8:06 pm, May 28, 2014
NRA commissioner reshuffle a step toward more scientific safety reviews
規制委人事案 科学的な原発審査につなげよ

The planned reshuffle of the Nuclear Regulation Authority must serve as an opportunity to rectify the institution’s self-centered mind-set.

After completing their two-year terms as NRA commissioners in September, Kunihiko Shimazaki and Kenzo Oshima will step down from the nation’s key nuclear watchdog body.

With the makeup of the NRA set to change, the government has submitted personnel proposals to both chambers of the Diet, seeking approval for its envisaged successors to Oshima and Shimazaki, who has also been serving as NRA acting chairman. The government wants to appoint Prof. Satoru Tanaka of the University of Tokyo and Prof. Akira Ishiwatari of Tohoku University.

The NRA was established under the administration of the then ruling Democratic Party of Japan in 2012. The organization’s oversight panel includes Chairman Shunichi Tanaka, and four specialists serving as commissioners. Tanaka’s term of office is five years, and the two remaining commissioners are serving three-year terms.

The departure of Shimazaki and Oshima will mark the first reshuffle of the panel since the NRA’s inauguration.

Only one of the current NRA commissioners is an expert in nuclear reactor technology, the most essential academic field for understanding and debating pertinent problems. Many critics have said the regulatory body is unable to fully discuss issues from an engineering point of view.

Over the years, commissioner-in-waiting Satoru Tanaka has specialized in nuclear engineering. He previously served as chairman of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan (AESJ). Some time after the disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant occurred, Tanaka worked to determine the cause of the crisis as head of an AESJ accident investigation panel.

The government’s decision to appoint him as an NRA commissioner apparently reflects its desire to improve the substance of technical discussions at the watchdog committee.

Ishiwatari is a geological specialist. His area of expertise is indispensable for nuclear power plant safety inspections.

Lack of coordination

Explaining the reasoning behind the decision to reshuffle personnel, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga described Tanaka and Ishiwatari as “the best figures capable of fulfilling their duties from an unbiased standpoint.” We hope the planned personnel reshuffle will do much to improve the NRA’s ability as a nuclear oversight committee.

It is also important to ensure the NRA properly functions as a panel seeking to reach its decisions through discussions among its chief and members. This type of decision-making process is part and parcel of such a committee.

At present, however, each NRA commissioner is tasked with exploring issues related to his or her particular area of expertise, such as equipment and natural disasters, when performing safety reviews. NRA Chairman Tanaka has been frequently heard at meetings saying, “I’ll leave it up to commissioners who have the expertise.”

In effect, each NRA commissioner is tasked with making a final decision about matters related to his or her academic discipline. Some critics, including the Liberal Democratic Party, have good reason to say the current state of affairs demonstrates a lack of coordination among the NRA chairman and members in performing their duties.

It should not be overlooked that aspects of safety reviews related to natural disasters, an area assigned to Shimazaki, have only made slow progress, thus prolonging the process.

During a review regarding the scale of a postulated earthquake, he has yet to disclose what sort of data will be under consideration prior to NRA meetings. Instead, he has issued extremely detailed instructions at nearly every safety review session. Doing so makes progress in conducting efficient safety inspections difficult.

Shimazaki’s attitude toward safety reviews has been characterized by unscientific thinking. This issue was evident, for instance, in his demand during a review regarding an active fault under Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tsuruga nuclear power station in Fukui Prefecture. He insisted it must be proven that the fault underneath the facility is never active.

Eleven nuclear power plants are currently undergoing safety review procedures toward resumption of operations. However, it remains unknown when the reviews of each plant will be completed.

The NRA needs to reconsider its safety inspection policies under a new team of commissioners. Doing so is essential for speeding up the review process.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 28, 2014)


« グレーゾーン 切れ目ない事態対処を可能に | トップページ | 原子力規制委―人事で役割ゆがめるな »





« グレーゾーン 切れ目ない事態対処を可能に | トップページ | 原子力規制委―人事で役割ゆがめるな »