NRA fails to find party to probe Oi quake faults

JIJI

The Nuclear Regulation Authority has failed to appoint an outside institution to sort data collected from drilling surveys on what is suspected to be an active fault under Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture.

Three rounds of open bidding failed to draw an applicant interested in singling out crush zones under Kepco’s plant based on drilling survey results and in tabulating the data, which include their exact positions and status, sources said Sunday. The hired organization would also be asked to display the distribution of the crush zones on a geographical cross-section.

The data processing is designed to help experts on an NRA inspection team come to a conclusion on whether any of the crush zones are active.

The NRA’s new nuclear safety standards don’t allow any important facility at a nuclear plant to be built directly above an active fault.

At present, only two reactors are in operation in Japan and both are at the Oi complex.

The team conducted surveys on crush zones there last November and December but can’t agree on whether they are active.

In January, the NRA decided to expand the survey area and have an unrelated specialized organization sort out data chiefly at the power utility.

The NRA Secretariat’s first round of bidding with a one-month deadline drew no applications by the Feb. 12 deadline, the sources said.

No applicant bid by the April 5 deadline for the second round for a longer contract through the end of August, and the third round for a much extended deal through the end of October drew no bidder either, the sources said.

An NRA official said there is only a limited number of organizations that can do such work.

“The NRA has yet to decide what to do next,” an official of the authority said, but it is difficult for the nuclear watchdog itself to do the work because the task requires professional expertise.