Although a Nuclear Regulation Authority panel judged Wednesday that the D-1 fault running under reactor 2 at Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tsuruga nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture is active, that decision is premature and unacceptable, the operator’s president, Yasuo Hamada, claimed the same day.
At a press conference after the panel’s meeting where its decision effectively doomed any chance of restarting the reactor, Hamada slammed the NRA for not giving his firm enough opportunity to explain and discuss the matter, claiming the panel’s decision was not based on objective data and facts.
He added that it was unfair that the panel did not even invite Japan Atomic Power to observe Wednesday’s meeting where the five experts presented their report on their probe of the fault at the Tsuruga plant, even though it concerned the operator.
This is “really an inappropriate action taken by the regulator, which exercises public power,” Hamada said.
Nuclear plant operators are not allowed to build or operate reactors and other critical safety equipment directly above active faults, which means the Tsuruga plant’s reactor 2 must be decommissioned. This will deal a heavy blow to Japan Atomic Power’s management.
Hamada and other Japan Atomic officials said they are confident the D-1 fault is not active and will keep stressing this point. The firm is conducting its own research and will compile a report by July, hoping to get the NRA to reverse its decision.
Reporters repeatedly asked Hamada what his company will do if the NRA stands firm. He kept saying his company still believes it can restart reactor 2 and thus has not resorted to Plan B.
Japan Atomic Power is funded by regional utilities and has three reactors, all of which are idle, mainly because of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant meltdown catastrophe and looming new NRA safety requirements. The NRA has also effectively lengthened the historical span in geological time for determining whether a fault is active.
Construction began on reactor 2 in 1982 and it started operations in 1987.