TOKYO: The Nuclear Regulation Authority on Wednesday decided to impose administrative punishment on Tokyo Electric Power Company Holding Inc. over security flaws at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in central Japan.
The NRA will ban TEPCO from moving nuclear fuel at the plant in Niigata Prefecture until it is confirmed that the company has fixed the problem.
It will be the second administrative order to be issued for a violation of rules under the law to regulate nuclear reactors. The first was imposed in 2013 on the Japan Atomic Energy Agency’s Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor in Fukui Prefecture, also central Japan.
The No. 7 reactor of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant has passed the NRA’s safety screening for a restart. But TEPCO will have to suspend its preparations for reactivating the reactor because the envisaged order will prohibit the company from loading nuclear fuel into the reactor.
The NRA is expected to take at least one year to confirm an improvement in the security measures at the plant. It is uncertain when TEPCO will be able to restart the reactor.
On March 16, the NRA said that many sections of equipment to detect intruders had failed at the plant but that sufficient measures were not taken.
“The flaws could have led to a grave situation in terms of nuclear material protection,” the NRA said, rating the problem at the most serious level of its four-tier assessment scale.
The NRA later ordered TEPCO to identify the cause of the problem, consider preventive measures and report the results within six months. It also decided to conduct an on-site inspection.
In a meeting Wednesday, NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa said the nuclear watchdog has yet to confirm whether TEPCO has taken sufficient measures to protect nuclear materials at the plant.
He said that nuclear fuel at the plant is kept in spent fuel pools and that protective measures can be strengthened by preventing the fuel from being transferred.
In September last year, an employee at the plant entered a reactor central control room by using the identification card of another employee.