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An internal probe by Tokyo Electric Power Co. has determined that division chiefs ordered at least three coverups of structural problems at Tepco nuclear plants, company sources said Thursday.

The officials, known as group managers, had instructed workers of General Electric International Inc., which was inspecting Tepco’s facilities, to falsify specific inspection reports, according to the firm’s findings.

The officials were stationed at Tepco’s No. 1 and No. 2 Fukushima plants in Fukushima Prefecture. False reports were also filed for the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture.

Tepco is finalizing its internal probe with the aim of compiling an interim report by Sept. 20, including disciplinary measures for the officials involved, the sources told Kyodo News.

Tepco, the nation’s largest power utility, determined that the managers involved in the Fukushima coverups directly pressured GEII inspectors to falsify reports about the presence of cracks by deleting information and via other means, they said.

The instructions concerned inspection reports related to the shrouds for reactor cores and steam dryers in the two plants.

Tepco has found false reports for five of the 10 reactors at the plants.

The findings are based on gaps between inspection records submitted by the GEII side to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, and those retained by Tepco, the sources said.

Tepco believes three to four officials are to blame for the coverups but will check to see if more were involved.

Shroud checks are usually carried out by two to three GEII inspectors and about 10 assistants, with a Tepco assistant manager present, the sources said.

If a crack is detected, the GEII inspectors report the findings to a group manager, who then decides whether to pass the report up to senior officials.

The sources said the group managers involved might have feared that if they notified the government about the problems, they would have to shut down the reactor to carry out further necessary checks.

Tepco officials have said the coverups may have been motivated chiefly by an increased need to keep up with rising electricity demand during Japan’s economic boom in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Tepco has submitted to the agency a list of 29 possible false inspection reports beginning in the late 1980s pertaining to 13 of 17 reactors at the three plants.

It later admitted to having falsified records.

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