Tepco to create firm for decommissioning

JIJI

Tokyo Electric Power Co. says it plans to set up an in-house company in April 2014 to focus on decommissioning the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The move is designed to clarify the role and responsibility of the decommissioning work while strengthening Tepco’s ability to deal with the massive buildup of radioactive water at the crippled plant. The decommissioning work will take 30 to 40 years, Tepco President Naomi Hirose said Friday.

The move is part of Tepco’s efforts to drastically overhaul itself while learning lessons from tainted water leaking from the plant, according to Hirose.

The in-house company will be formed by separating the decommissioning work from Tepco’s nuclear power department, and its creation will be included in a new reconstruction plan the utility is drafting.

The in-house company will cooperate with the government to promote cleanup efforts at Fukushima No. 1. Its executives will include those from outside Tepco, including officials at engineering companies familiar with nuclear plant technologies.

Tepco also plans to transfer employees in charge of nonnuclear areas, such as civil engineering and thermal power generation, to the new entity.

After the separation, the nuclear power department will concentrate on restarting Tepco’s idled Kashiwazaki-Kariwa atomic plant in Niigata Prefecture.

The water leaks at Fukushima No. 1 have prevented the Nuclear Regulation Authority from checking the safety of reactors 6 and 7 at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, a prerequisite to restarting them. Tepco hopes that spinning off the decommissioning work will help improve its response to the NRA’s safety checks.

In April, Tepco adopted an in-house system to separate its organization by major departments, such as thermal power and electricity transmission and distribution.