The Japanese government will order special inspections of some nuclear power plants after recent revelations of past safety lapses. Trade minister Akira Amari said that the special inspections could force utilities to shut nuclear power reactors in advance of scheduled closures for mandatory inspections.
Utilities were ordered by Amari to disclose past cases of safety lapses at their power plants by 30 March. Ten nuclear utilities reported 316 cases of illegal operations at their plants, including data falsification and safety breaches. Over all, 12 power utilities reported around 10,000 cases of falsification at nuclear, fossil and hydroelectric plants.
Amari said that four companies - Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), Hokuriku Electric Power, Chugoku Electric Power and Japan Atomic Power Co (Japco) - were responsible for the more serious incidents reported. These included criticality incidents at reactors operated by Hokuriku and Tepco, while Chugoku and Japco failed to report technical problems.
As a result, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) will put nine nuclear power reactors under stricter supervision and conduct extraordinary on-site inspections and checks. The reactors are at Tepco's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa and Fukushima 1 and 2 plants, Hokuriku's Shika plant, Chugoku's Shimane plant and Japco's Tsuruga and Tokai plants.
Inspectors will also be sent to 125 hydroelectric plants and five fossil power plants. Tepco was also ordered to immediately suspend operations at its Komukawa hydroelectric plant, while Hokuriku was told to halt its Ichinose hydroelectric plant.
Nuclear & Industrial Safety Agency
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