NRA will train crisis experts, inspectors

JIJI

The secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority will train experts to improve the nation’s ability to deal with severe disasters involving nuclear plants, officials said.

The secretariat officials unveiled the plan Monday at a meeting to check progress in government efforts to implement proposals by the government and Diet panels that probed the triple-meltdown calamity at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant that started in March 2011.

At the meeting, Yotaro Hatamura, professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo who headed the government’s panel, said that at the time the Fukushima crisis started, neither the government, Tepco nor the plant had any experts who focus on predicting how the disaster could unfold and give appropriate advice on how to deal with various situations.

The NRA secretariat officials said the organization will train its experts and nuclear plant inspectors to improve their abilities.

If another serious nuclear plant catastrophe strikes Japan, NRA Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa and Masaya Yasui, director general for emergency response at the secretariat, would lead a team of about 10 experts in the secretariat. The team will create scenarios of how the situation could evolve and advise to the utility operating the stricken facility, Hideka Morimoto, deputy secretary general at the secretariat, told the meeting.

The secretariat will provide training on a routine basis so its experts will be able to give support necessary for plant operators to take appropriate steps in a timely manner, such as injections of seawater into reactors and venting of radioactive steam to reduce pressure inside reactors, Morimoto said.

At the meeting, participants noted the importance of confirming the current state of each nuclear power plant by gathering plant design drawings, information on past repairs and renovation work and other materials.

Some participants said it is necessary to provide training to develop the ability of experts to deal with a situation in which central control rooms lose track of conditions inside reactors.