NRA to mull screening nuke workers

Kyodo

The Nuclear Regulation Authority said a panel to be set up to discuss atomic energy security issues will weigh the possibility of introducing a system to investigate the backgrounds of workers to avoid acts of terrorism at nuclear plants.

As atomic facilities possess material and technologies that could be used to create nuclear weapons, the panel will examine ways to check whether nuclear power station employees have a criminal record or drug dependency, among other issues, to screen out individuals who could potentially become involved in terrorism, the authority said Wednesday.

The United States and European countries already have such a screening system in place, but Tokyo has delayed taking similar measures due to privacy concerns. The panel will consist of NRA Commissioner Kenzo Oshima and outside experts.

After the 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. was unable to contact many workers who had engaged in efforts to contain the crisis, bringing to light the lax identity checks of plant employees.

The NRA was launched last September. It was also placed in charge of nuclear security matters because the government thought it better to unify atomic regulatory functions under one entity.