Advisory committee reports on Tepco's self-assessment

31 January 2017

Tepco Holdings has made significant progress in its adoption of a stronger safety culture, an advisory body to the company has said. The Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee, which has reviewed the company's self-assessment, made several recommendations for further improvement.

The committee was established in September 2012 as an advisory body to Tepco's board of directors and comprises five domestic and international experts. It is an independent committee that conducts external monitoring and supervision of the activities of the Nuclear Reform Special Task Force set up by Tepco. The committee's chairman is Dale Klein, former chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and its deputy chairman is Lady Barbara Judge, chairman emeritus of the UK Atomic Energy Authority.

The Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee received Tepco Holdings' draft report on its self-assessment in September 2015. The committee - with the assistance of Randall Edington, former executive vice president and chief nuclear officer at US utility Arizona Public Service - has now reviewed the report and evaluated the detailed findings.

The committee concluded Tepco Holdings has "attained a certain level of achievement as a whole" and "the principles of Nuclear Safety Reform have been embedded in the organization".

Klein said: "We are pleased to see that Tepco Holdings undertook this self-assessment in depth and with great seriousness. The results of the report are encouraging, and indicate significant progress along with areas where more progress is needed."

In its report, Tepco said the idea of prioritizing nuclear safety has "permeated throughout the organization as a result of direct dialogue and conveying messages through the intranet, email and morning meetings". However, it said communication with field workers about nuclear safety "may be insufficient".

The committee noted particular improvements in a number of areas. These included: emphasis by management on safety; effectiveness of Tepco's new Nuclear Safety Oversight Office; emergency preparedness; communication with communities and other stakeholders; and, integration of the principle of 'as low as reasonably achievable' to reduce radiation levels at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant.

The recommendations made by the committee include continued efforts to instil safety culture throughout Tepco and improved training of managers. It also said Tepco should take steps to ensure that safety culture extends to contractors, as well as strengthening internal safety communications and communications with external stakeholders. The advisory panel also recommended Tepco continue the self-assessment process.

Judge said, "It is now important that Tepco Holdings implement the improvements that the self-assessment identified as necessary, and that it employ self-assessment on a continuing basis so that it does not become complacent."

Tepco said that, in evaluating progress, it deliberately set a high ideal for itself: "Keep the Fukushima nuclear accident firmly in mind; we should be safer today than we were yesterday, and safer tomorrow than today; we call for nuclear power plant operators that keep creating unparalleled safety."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News