Japan nuclear safety team took utility moneyBy YURI KAGEYAMA
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | November 04,2012
AP FILE PHOTO This Nov. 12, 2011, photo shows a view of the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, in northeastern Japan. Four members of a Japanese government team assigned to set reactor safety measures received funding from utility companies or atomic industry manufacturers, raising questions about such experts’ objectivity.TOKYO — Members of a Japanese government team assigned to set reactor safety measures received funding from utility companies or atomic industry manufacturers, raising questions about the experts’ neutrality in the wake of last year’s tsunami-triggered nuclear disaster.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority said Friday that Nagoya University Professor Akio Yamamoto received 27.14 million yen, or $339,000, over the past three years for research on reactors.
That includes 6.28 million yen, or $79,000, from a subsidiary of Tokyo Electric Power Co., the utility that runs the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant sent into meltdowns last year.
The authority said Friday that three others on the six-member standards team received industry funding.
Getting such money is not illegal, but it could call the neutrality of the team into question, since the industry would benefit from laxer standards.
The commission had asked the team members to voluntarily disclose such funding, including grants and donations, in an effort to boost transparency.
Akira Yamaguchi, a professor at Osaka University, got 10 million yen, or $125,000, in such money, including 3 million yen from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which makes nuclear plants.
Before, regulators were in the same ministry that promotes the industry.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority was set up this year after calls for a more independent watchdog, and large and frequent public protests against nuclear power.
The Tokyo Shimbun newspaper reported Friday that such funding highlights the “danger the measures may turn spineless to reflect the utilities’ wishes.”
Even the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s chief, Shunichi Tanaka, has been under fire as possibly being too pro-nuclear.
He was a key member of a government panel promoting nuclear energy and headed government research on the technology before being tapped for the job.
Separately, another team of experts working under the commission has been examining earthquake faults at Ohi nuclear power plant, which houses the only two reactors running in Japan.
A decision is expected Sunday on whether Ohi will be shut down.
Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors, besides the four ruined at Fukushima Dai-ichi, have not been turned back on after getting turned off for routine inspections.
The two at Ohi went back on in July, barely two months after this nation went without nuclear power.
Before the Fukushima disaster, nuclear power had furnished about 30 percent of Japan’s electricity.
Ruling party legislator Goshi Hosono, the former minister overseeing the disaster, said Saturday more tests may be needed to check on the faults, but even “a gray zone” of uncertainty would likely mean Ohi reactors would go offline.MORE IN Wire NewsDENVER — An independent city official who monitors the Denver Police Department said he will... Full StoryWASHINGTON — Sen. Full StoryRALEIGH, N.C. — Luke Martin Jr. Full Story
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: In 1835, deranged house painter attempts to kill Pres. Andrew Jackson; in 1969, Beatles play last live public performance on roof of Apple Corps building, London; in 1935, poet Richard Brautigan born in Tacoma, Washington.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Maple syrup standards revised to match international standards; city must decide how best to use $300K in leftover sewer project money; Bryanna Allen reports on funding proposal for solar projects; local agency gets HUD money.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1393, quick thinking teen girl saves King Charles IV of France from burning alive at masquerade ball; in 1760, Vermont town of Pownal created by N.H. Gov. Benning Wentworth; Canuplin, Filipino movie star, born.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day, 1700, Cascadia Earthquake, Magnitude 9 plus, strikes West Coast with tsunami effects felt as far away as Japan; in 1885, troops loyal to Sudanese Mohammad Ahmad conquer Khartoum; in 1992, Boris Yeltsin untargets U.S.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 971 AD, Southern Han war elephant corps defeated by Song Dynasty troops bowmen; in 1870, Montana, Marias massacre, U.S. kills 173 Native Americans; in 1941, Charles Lindbergh recommends neutrality pact with Nazis.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Bryanna Allen reports Castleton Downtown hosts open house, fire in Springfield leaves family without a roof of their own, suspected Bosnian war criminal trial goes to jury, Brent Curtis reports Rutland Town budget set to rise.