Nuclear, O&M

Japan’s nuclear regulator lambasts TEPCO’s safety culture

Japan Nuclear Regulation Authority NRA Tokyo Electric Power Co. TEPCO Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) says Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) inappropriately handled fuel rods at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant that led to damage in some of the fuel rods, according to Global Times.

The NRA said in the article that workers tried to forcibly jam the rods into fuel assemblies when they wouldn’t fit, and 26 of them showed abnormalities. Officials also said some of the rods were found to be touching each other in the assemblies, and regulators were not made aware of the problem until 2012.

NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said in the article that the safety culture at TEPCO has “serious problems,” and that the fuel handling problems could only be seen from inside the facility. Similarly, TEPCO workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were found to be mishandling fuel rods and assemblies at least until 1998, when procedures were changed. TEPCO’s business plan includes restarting units 6 and 7 at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in July to help cut operating costs for TEPCO. Units 1 through 5 may be restarted in late fiscal year 2014.

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