Japanese nuclear regulator on March 17 said that the world’s largest nuclear plant, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, will not restart anytime soon due to serious holes in the anti-terrorism measures found at the facility. According to AP, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), at its weekly meeting, had decided to suspend further safety inspection and other processes for a restart of the No.7 reactor at the nuclear plant on the northern Japanese coast in Niigata prefecture. After a recent inspection, the regulators found malfunctioning equipment for anti-terrorism measures and nuclear materials protection at multiple locations at the plant dating back at least until last March.
NRA chairman, Toyoshi Fuketa said that officials are also investigating the security measure before that. He further added that any step leading to a reactor restart at the plant will be suspended “for at least one year or even longer”. As per reports, the NRA also gave the plant’s nuclear security a “red” status, which is the worst out of four potential ratings. The “red” status also mans that its organisational management had deteriorated to levels that could allow intruders.
Now, the case has also raised question if Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the owner of the nuclear plant, has learned any lessons from the 2011 Fukushima disaster, which was spawned by an earthquake and tsunami but its full impact largely attributed to the utility’s lack of safety security. Critics have said that the plant requires higher security because it is located on the coast facing North Korea. Meanwhile, Wednesday’s decision comes as TEPCO was making final preparations towards restarting the plant after regulators granted safety approval for its No.6 and No.7 reactors in 2017.
TEPCO’s president, Tomoaki Kobayakawa, on Wednesday even apologised over the problem and for causing safety concerns to the public. As per reports, the restarting of the two reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant is considered crucial for TEPCO to reduce its financial burden to pay for the damages caused by the Fukushima disaster. But it is also worth noting that the plant was partially damaged in a 2007 earthquake, causing mistrust among local municipalities.