The Nuclear Regulation Authority said Wednesday it will begin a formal safety screening process for Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s massive Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture, which the utility is seeking to restart to improve its battered finances.
Although Tepco applied for safety inspections of reactors 6 and 7 at the plant in late September, the NRA has not held an official safety screening meeting, which will be open to the public, amid concerns over the utility’s poor handling of the shattered Fukushima No. 1 plant.
But the NRA commissioners said Wednesday that the agency should at least hold a meeting to listen to the outline of Tepco’s application and check whether there are problems that should be addressed.
The decision was reached after Tepco last week announced steps, in response to NRA suggestions, to improve the tough working conditions for people struggling to clean up the mess at Fukushima No. 1. The complex has been plagued with mishaps caused by human error.
As one of the reasons for moving ahead with the safety screening process, NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka told his fellow commissioners at their meeting: “It is the NRA’s legal obligation to conduct screenings. . . . If we continue to keep the matter on hold, a legal problem could emerge.”