Tsuruga mayor to NRA: Don’t rush to judgment on fault under reactor

Kyodo

The mayor of Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, wants nuclear regulators to carry out “cautious deliberations” before reaching a conclusion on whether one of the reactors at an atomic plant in his city is sitting above an active fault.

“I have doubts about (the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s rush) toward a conclusion,” Kazuharu Kawase said Monday during a visit to the regulator’s Tokyo base just days before an NRA-appointed panel is expected to conclude that a fault below the Tsuruga plant’s reactor 2 appears active, a determination that could prevent the unit from ever being restarted.

If the five NRA commissioners agree the reactor sits atop an active fault, based on the panel’s assessment, Japan Atomic Power Co. may have no option but to scrap the facility, dealing a huge blow to the local economy.

Noting that Japan Atomic Power has yet to finish its own investigation into whether the fault is active, Kawase added, “I want the NRA to cautiously deliberate the matter from a broad viewpoint, reflecting the outcome of the operator’s investigation and various opinions in and outside the country.”

The Tsuruga plant has two reactors. Unit 1 starting commercial operations in 1970 and reactor 2 fired up in 1987.

Kawase has said during talks with a senior official of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry that the local economy has been “battered” by the shutdown of the two reactors that took place in light of the triple-meltdown calamity at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, while discussions over faults have made prospects for their restart unclear.

NRA Deputy Secretary General Hideka Morimoto, however, sought acceptance of the panel’s plan to issue its assessment Wednesday. “The panel has spent quite a long time (in discussions) . . . and is trying to summarize its assessment by using the data available at this moment,” he said.