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Japan's nuclear regulator head calls on Tepco to beef up staff in wake of Fukushima decommissioning errors

Kyodo

The head of the nuclear regulator has called on the top executive of Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings to beef up staff at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in the wake of a string of human errors in decommissioning work.

Tepco Holdings President Tomoaki Kobayakawa said Thursday its analysis showed that inadequate procedural checks was the common factor behind the errors.

He also told the Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa about its plan to allocate an additional 70 to 90 staff to the nuclear plant, where 1,070 staff were working as of October last year.

The reorganization is aimed at ensuring proper decommissioning work and safety, Kobayakawa said.

While Fuketa welcomed the increase in personnel, he criticized Kobayakawa’s explanation that errors wouldn’t have happened if the staff on the ground had greater ability and knowledge, saying it is doubtful that the comment would serve as a good motivation for the existing personnel at the plant.

Another member of the NRA mentioned Tepco’s push to eliminate operational procedures in 2017: “Cost cuts have a corresponding amount of pressure on the ground,” he pointed out.

Since last June, operational errors at the Fukushima No. 1 reactor have included faulty wiring causing small fires. The chief of the NRA’s office on-site reported that, irrespective of Tepco employees’ scrutiny at the facility, securing sufficient personnel is essential.

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