Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has completed its previously announced merger with the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organisation (JNES). The move gives the NRA greater resources for processing reactor restart applications.
The NRA was established following the 2011 Fukushima accident to replace the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, itself part of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which promoted the use of nuclear energy. With a more independent mandate than its predecessor, the NRA has two pressing tasks: It must oversee the decommissioning work at the Fukushima Daiichi site and process the applications to restart other reactors.
The NRA will benefit in this work by adding the experience and resources of the JNES, which was set up in 2003 as an expert body to inspect nuclear installations and undertake safety analyses. It has already been acting in support of the NRA. The Japanese cabinet approved the merger of NRA and JNES last October.
The JNES was officially abolished yesterday and absorbed into the NRA. Many of JNES's 400 staff are highly experienced and have joined NRA's workforce, taking the NRA's total staff close to 1000. Some of the most experienced staff from JNES are expected to take mentoring roles that help existing NRA staff develop their competency.
Applications have been made to restart 17 of the 48 units idled due to a loss of confidence in Japan's nuclear safety arrangements after the Fukushima accident of 2011. The speed that NRA can independently process these applications under its new rules is partially dependent on its manpower.
NRA chairman Shunichi Tanaka was recently cited as saying that none of the applications are expected to be completed before April.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News