Kepco office searched over deadly leak

Police seek out evidence of professional negligence at Mihama reactor


Police searched a Kansai Electric Power Co. branch office Tuesday in Fukui Prefecture as part of an investigation into a deadly nuclear plant accident in August.

Around 8:30 a.m., 120 police officers swarmed into Kepco’s Wakasa branch office in Mihama, which oversees operations at the company’s 11 nuclear reactors in Fukui, to search for evidence on whether the utility committed professional negligence resulting in the worst fatal accident at a nuclear plant in Japan.

Police also searched plant offices of Kepco and its maintenance affiliate, Nihon Arm Co., earlier this month.

Fukui Prefectural Police plan to examine documents at the Wakasa office to determine if company officials were responsible for failing to check a coolant water pipe at the Mihama Nuclear Power Plant for nearly 28 years until the badly corroded pipe ruptured Aug. 9, spewing superheated steam.

Five workers were killed and seven others injured in the accident at the No. 3 reactor in Mihama. The workers had been doing preparatory work for regular checks of the reactor.

Kepco is suspected of failing to conduct checks even after Nihon Arm warned it last November that the pipe in question had been overlooked during annual inspections.

Police want to know exactly when Nihon Arm notified the utility by examining documents at the Wakasa office, including the company’s inspection plans and records, investigative sources said.