The Federation of Electric Power Companies admitted Wednesday that it failed to disclose data it compiled in February 1996 on the cost of burying spent nuclear fuel.

The federation estimate shows that the cost of burying spent nuclear fuel is about 30 percent lower than recycling it.

The federation, which consists of 10 power utilities in Japan, is under no obligation to publicize such data, but trust in nuclear power policy may be eroded due to the failure by the government and the power industry group to disclose crucial information, critics claim.

On Monday, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry formally admitted that it concealed its own estimate that the cost of burying spent nuclear fuel is far lower than recycling it.

On Tuesday, the government’s Atomic Energy Commission said it also had covered up cost estimates that contradicted its long-term nuclear energy plan based on the recycling of spent nuclear fuel.

According to the federation, the estimate in question was part of a case study conducted by a group comprising middle-level managers of its member power companies.

“It was a rough estimate that simply applied case examples overseas to the situation in Japan, and could not be called a responsible calculation,” federation officials said in a statement.

The officials claimed that they found the documents late Tuesday when going through storage facilities following media reports on the METI concealments.

The critics claim that these concealments are aimed at avoiding public calls for a review of its nuclear fuel recycling policy.

Kepco scrutinized

OSAKA (Kyodo) The government began conducting on-site inspections of Kansai Electric Power Co. facilities Wednesday, following recent revelations of fabricated data.

The Kansai Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry, a regional office of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, plans to complete the inspections at the utility’s 11 facilities in Osaka, Hyogo and Wakayama prefectures by July 14, METI officials said.

METI’s regional bureau will decide within two or three months whether to punish the the utility by having it halt its power generating facilities.

Kansai Electric, the nation’s second-largest power firm, covers the Kansai region.

Kansai Electric said last week that it found 3,659 record fabrications from fiscal 2000 to 2003 at its 10 thermal power plants and a generation site that provides electricity to Kansai airport in Osaka.

Kansai Electric made the announcement following the discovery of fabrications by METI’s regional bureau through an on-site inspection in April.

The regional bureau decided to conduct additional inspections, as the cases include 87 particularly serious ones, including bogus reports of facility safety checks that were never carried out and the minutes of meetings that never took place, the officials said.

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