Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. (TEPCO) is once again under fire for causing another serious incident on the site of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station. All the nuclear power stations in Japan are obliged to install equipment to detect intruders as a countermeasure against terrorism. However, with regard to the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) announced on March 16 that several equipment units had not been functioning since last March. In other words, it was exposed to the risk of unauthorized intrusion. In terms of the level of the safety, this violation is classified as most serious.
At the Special Committee on Nuclear Regulations of the Liberal Democratic Party which was held on March 17, we, members of the committee, analyzed the status quo of the accidents, and discussed the measures to be taken to solve the issues. One of the executive directors of TEPCO, who attended the special committee, made comments which gave us the impression that TEPCO’s management was aware of the laziness of the staff concerned, but false reports were made and the situation was covered up. His explanation raised serious questions about the sense of responsibility and the ability of the entire company. It made us feel that there was no need for an external third-party committee to review the incidents.
Since TEPCO had suffered serious damages of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station caused by the large-scale earthquake and tsunami in 2011, the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station is considered to be a lifeline for TEPCO and the key to its reconstruction. From this viewpoint, it goes without saying that TEPCO has been disregarding the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station. This incident spurred speculations that the inspection would take more than a year, and that the Station’s reoperation would be difficult.