Nuclear experts advising NRA disclose funding from related businesses

JIJI

Fifteen nuclear experts serving in study groups set up by the Nuclear Regulation Authority have accepted cash donations or research funds from nuclear-related companies, including utilities and reactor makers.

The findings could undermine the credibility of the new independent regulatory body, which has been tasked with drafting new national safety guidelines for managing nuclear power.

The NRA, which has set up 13 expert panels, is asking members of the nine working on commercial reactor regulations to voluntarily report the amount of money they and their laboratories have accepted from nuclear-related businesses.

According to the disclosures, 14 of the 15 experts received ¥68.3 million in funds from fiscal 2008 to 2012. The other expert received research funds but refused to reveal the amount, citing corporate secrecy obligations.

Of the 14 who made full disclosure, Nagoya University professor Akio Yamamoto had received the most: ¥27.14 million. He is on the panel drawing up new reactor safety guidelines and one that is assessing efforts to keep the meltdown-hit Fukushima No. 1 power plant stable.

Osaka University professor Akira Yamaguchi, on the panel crafting the new safety guidelines, got the second-largest amount: ¥10.1 million. He is also on a science ministry panel set up at Monju — the Japan Atomic Energy Agency’s troubled experimental fast-breeder reactor.