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NRA seeks background checks on nuclear workers to prevent terror attacks

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has unveiled a draft of regulations calling for the introduction of background checks on nuclear power plant workers to prevent terrorists from sneaking into such facilities under the guise of workers.

    Under the rules, the NRA would require nuclear plant operators to check workers' records of overseas travel, their history of drug use and their criminal records, among other matters through certificates and interviews if needed.

    The NRA is aiming to enforce the regulations in late August after hearing public opinion on the rules from July 14 to Aug. 12. If introduced, they will be the first such rules in Japan.

    Currently, workers can enter the premises of atomic power stations if their identities are confirmed through their driver's licenses or other identification cards.

    The new regulations would apply to nuclear plant workers who regularly enter central control rooms and other protected areas, which require constant monitoring. Nuclear plant operators would be required to check such workers' records of overseas trips as well as whether they have used drugs, have criminal records and are linked to crime syndicates or organizations feared to launch terrorist attacks, based on their voluntary notifications. If necessary, nuclear plant operators would require employees to submit relevant certificates, interview workers and conduct aptitude tests on them.

    Most major countries that have nuclear power plants have a system of background checks on workers, but Japan has not introduced such a system to protect personal information on nuclear plant workers.

    In January 2011, just two months before the Fukushima meltdowns, the International Atomic Energy Agency recommended Japan introduce a system to conduct background checks on nuclear plant workers.

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