16 Novembre 2015
November 14, 2015
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
The nation's nuclear watchdog has pushed back the deadline for nuclear power plant operators to set up emergency response centers to deal with possible terrorist attacks at their facilities.
The decision was made at a Nov. 13 meeting of the Nuclear Regulation Authority. It had previously set a deadline of July 2018 for the emergency response centers.
It extended the period to five years after nuclear power plants are certified as having cleared new safety standards that came into force in 2013 in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The move comes as many regional utilities operating nuclear power plants have yet to apply for NRA approval of their emergency centers.
This is because the NRA’s screening of reactor buildings and other related facilities is taking longer than initially anticipated.
“I have to apologize for setting a timeline that some would criticize as removed from reality,” said Shunichi Tanaka, NRA chairman, acknowledging that the watchdog’s initial outlook was too optimistic.
The new regulations require nuclear power plant operators to be able to continue to cool their reactors via remote-control from a special facility in the event that their central control rooms are destroyed by a terrorist attack by aircraft and other emergency contingencies.
Currently, 26 reactors at 16 nuclear power plants have applied for NRA screening. Of the 26, only five have applied for screening of their emergency response centers.
Of the nation’s 43 reactors, only two at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture have gone back online after getting the green light from the NRA. However, Kyushu Electric has not applied for screening of its emergency response center.
Shikoku Electric Power Co. has cleared the central part of the screening process for the No. 3 reactor at its Ikata nuclear power plant in Ehime Prefecture, although it, too, has not applied for screening of its terrorist-attack response center.