3 experts on Monju panel received donations from industry

June 03, 2012

By SATOSHI OTANI/ Staff Writer

Three academic members of a panel examining the safety of the Monju fast breeder reactor received 16.1 million yen ($206,000) in donations from the nuclear power industry over five years, The Asahi Shimbun has learned.

The members denied that the donations, made through their universities for research, have affected the discussions at the experts committee for the comprehensive safety evaluation of Monju.

The Japan Atomic Energy Agency, which operates Monju in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, established the seven-member panel in November at the direction of the science minister.

The agency plans to restart Monju, which has been suspended due to a series of problems, at an early date.

The Asahi Shimbun requested information on donations from the panel members’ universities based on the information disclosure law.

The records for fiscal 2006 to fiscal 2010 have been provided, and the three experts admitted to The Asahi Shimbun that they received the donations.

The Japan Atomic Energy Agency, which did not investigate financial support from the nuclear industry before appointing the panel members, is looking into the issue.

The agency will consider replacing members if they received financial support that would affect safety evaluations, an official said.

The science ministry said it will instruct the agency to ask committee members to declare the financial support they have received.

The three members are Hironobu Unesaki, a professor of nuclear engineering at Kyoto University; Isao Kataoka, a professor of mechanical engineering at Osaka University and chairman of the experts committee; and Toshikazu Takeda, director of the University of Fukui’s Research Institute of Nuclear Engineering.

The five donors are Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.; Mitsubishi Electric Corp.; Kansai Genshiryoku Kondankai, an organization affiliated with Kansai Electric Power Co; Nuclear Engineering Ltd.; and Global Nuclear Fuel-Japan Co.

Mitsubishi Heavy built Monju and won a 160-million-yen contract for its stress test from the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, while Mitsubishi Electric did work for the agency worth 1.5 billion yen in fiscal 2011.

Nuclear Engineering, a group company of Kansai Electric Power, was awarded orders related to Monju’s stress test.

Unesaki received 1.8 million yen from Nuclear Engineering and Kansai Genshiryoku Kondankai, while Kataoka received 4.5 million yen from Kansai Genshiryoku Kondankai and Mitsubishi Electric.

Mitsubishi Heavy, Nuclear Engineering, Kansai Genshiryoku Kondankai and Global Nuclear Fuel-Japan donated 9.8 million yen to Takeda.

The donors designated the recipients and made donations through their universities to sponsor their research. The recipients are not required to report how they spent the money to the donors.

The expert committee has met twice. The Japan Atomic Energy Agency briefed panelists on countermeasures it has taken against severe accidents following the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and provided an interim report on the stress test. The members stated their opinions.

The agency plans to ask for the members’ final opinions after the stress test is completed.

By SATOSHI OTANI/ Staff Writer
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The Monju fast breeder reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The Monju fast breeder reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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  • The Monju fast breeder reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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