The Nuclear Regulation Authority said Jan. 30 it may introduce mandatory background checks for workers at nuclear power plants as a way to prevent terrorist attacks.
The NRA plans to set up a panel of outside experts in February to consider this and other steps to shore up anti-terrorism measures at nuclear facilities.
The background checks will be conducted on workers employed by power utilities and their partner businesses who would be in a position to learn confidential information or enter key facilities at nuclear plants and other similar establishments. Workers will be screened for any criminal history, as well as for debt, drug addiction or other personal information terrorists could use to extort information from them.
Japan is the only major nation using nuclear power that has not introduced a similar system. The International Atomic Energy Agency recommended in 1999 that power utilities carry out background checks on their nuclear plant workers, and Japan's industry ministry considered introducing such checks in 2005 but ended up shelving the plan.
The IAEA went on to recommend in 2011 that governments institute background checks on nuclear plant workers. Following the recommendation, an expert panel of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission compiled a report in March 2012 to call on the government to introduce such a system.
The Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami destroyed emergency power sources and transmission lines at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011, highlighting the vulnerability of nuclear plants to potential terrorist attacks.
It was learned following the Fukushima nuclear disaster that some nuclear plant workers who had been employed by subcontractors could not be identified.
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