21 Juin 2017
June 21, 2017
Nuclear regulator inspects accident site
Japan's nuclear regulator has conducted an urgent inspection of a research facility north of Tokyo where workers this month were exposed to radioactive substances.
Officials from the Nuclear Regulation Authority visited the Oarai Research and Development Center in Ibaraki Prefecture on Wednesday. The facility is operated by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, the country's major nuclear research organization.
On June 6th, workers at the facility inhaled radioactive materials after a bag of the substances burst open when they were checking a nuclear fuel container.
Officials from the regulator want to know whether the processes to handle hazardous materials were proper. Workers failed to use a sealed worktable.
Officials are also looking into why the workers needed more than 3 hours after the accident to evacuate the contaminated space.
The nuclear regulator has only once before carried out another urgent inspection. That was in 2013, at Fukui Prefecture's Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor. The inspection came after revelations of missed safety checkups. Monju is also run by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency.
The regulator's chairman Shunichi Tanaka told reporters that the JAEA should serve as a model for using nuclear power, but that it is actually the opposite. He added that a thorough analysis is needed to identify the root cause of the accident.