Nuclear corporation could face the ax

Extensive reform — including possible elimination — of the Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corp. (PNC) must be considered, according to Riichiro Chikaoka, director general of the Science and Technology Agency.

Chikaoka made the statement April 18 during the first meeting of a committee set up to deliberate reforming the PNC, which has been rocked by a series of accidents at its nuclear facilities and attempts to falsify reports on the mishaps. PNC President Toshiyuki Kondo said at the meeting that PNC organizations that have already accomplished their initial development objectives would be reformed extensively.

He went on to say that in coordination with the power industry and other parties, the PNC will attempt to pass along technologies it has acquired through its facilities. Kondo also said the PNC would exert further efforts to improve the safety and efficiency of fast-breeder reactors and disposal of nuclear waste from its facilities.

Agency officials at the outset of the meeting said some quarters believe the PNC should be disbanded in light of social and economic circumstances. Others went as far as to say that the PNC can not be entrusted with a nuclear fuel recycling program.

The committee is made up of nine specialists in crisis management and quality control, including Michiko Imai, a physician and alpinist, and Sho Nasu, chairman of the board of Tokyo Electric Power Co. The committee has been asked to draft a reform proposal by around summer on the basis of its deliberations and an evaluation made by outside consultants.