The decision by the central government on June 16 to resume operations at the Oi nuclear power plant is yet another attempt to rely on the myth of the safety of nuclear plants.
There is a huge problem with the procedure used to promote resumption of operations through a "political decision" made to declare the plant safe based on provisional standards.
The examination of last year's accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant by the central government's Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations is not yet complete. There has yet to be an explanation of how those at the plant tried to resolve the situation after the earthquake and tsunami struck or whether the damage was allowed to expand. Sufficient safety measures cannot be implemented because the causes of the accident have yet to be clarified.
The central government and Kansai Electric Power Co., the operator of the Oi plant, insist that they have implemented measures that would prevent a severe accident even if a tsunami on a scale of that which struck Fukushima should engulf the Oi plant in Fukui Prefecture. Power-supply vehicles and firefighting pumps have been installed at the Oi plant site to cool the reactor cores in case of emergencies.
However, should a severe accident occur at the Oi plant, the measures in place to contain such a possible accident are insufficient.
The installation of filters on the venting equipment to prevent the emission of large amounts of radioactive materials as well as the completion of a quake-proof control center building that would be absolutely necessary to deal with an accident will only be achieved three years from now.
A resumption of operations based on the lax judgment that everything will be fine as long as a plan is in place is unacceptable. That is nothing more than operating nuclear plants while hoping that an unexpected accident does not occur.
Central government officials weighed concerns about a nuclear accident against a critical shortage of electricity and chose to prevent an electricity shortfall.
There should be a clear recognition that safety measures at the nuclear plant are insufficient.
The decision to restart the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Oi plant should not be made a precedent for the remaining 48 reactors that are offline for checks or maintenance.
If many other nuclear plants are allowed to resume operations through the use of provisional safety standards, that would signal that nothing was learned from the Fukushima accident.
That would also mean that a new nuclear regulatory structure was being ignored from even before its creation. The ruling and opposition parties have agreed to create a new nuclear regulatory commission that will operate with greater independence from the government. But it won't be empowered until possibly by the end of September.
Operations will resume at the Oi plant without a comprehensive review of nuclear energy policy and before the full implementation of a regulatory structure that can gain the public's trust.
There will be a need for society as a whole to continue oversight over nuclear plants.
- « Prev
- Next »