Kepco ordered to shut down Mihama reactor


Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Shoichi Nakagawa on Monday ordered Kansai Electric Power Co. to halt the No. 3 reactor at its Mihama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture until the reactor is confirmed to meet government standards.

The reactor was the scene last month of Japan’s deadliest-ever nuclear plant accident.

The move came after a ministry panel probing the accident released an interim report Monday that blamed the Aug. 9 accident that killed five workers and injured seven others on safety shortcomings by Kepco and other parties regarding a faulty coolant water pipe.

The workers had been undertaking preparatory work for regular checks of the reactor.

The minister also reprimanded Kansai Electric President Yosaku Fuji for a series of indiscretions and requested that he take every possible measure to prevent another accident.

Nakagawa harshly criticized the utility and indicated more penalties will come.

“Kansai Electric’s responsibility is grave,” he told a news conference. “I don’t think the case will be closed with a reprimand and a suspension order. This is simply an interim report, not a final decision.”

In the interim report, the panel said failure to check corrosion of pipes triggered the accident, singling out for blame Kepco, Nihon Arm Co., Kansai Electric’s affiliate overseeing maintenance of its power plants, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., which manufactured the reactor.

The report urged the three to set up an integrated system to maintain the pipes and to share information on safety controls.

The ministry also canceled its quality guarantee assessment for three reactors. The three, all in Fukui, are the Mihama No. 1 reactor, the No. 3 reactor at the Takahama Nuclear Power Plant and the No. 2 reactor at the Oi Nuclear Power Plant.