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Japanese nuclear power firm inspected following mass data alterations

The Japan Atomic Power Co.'s Tsuruga Power Station Unit 2 is seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter on Nov. 3, 2019. (Mainichi/Tatsuya Onishi)

TOKYO -- Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) launched an on-site inspection at the Japan Atomic Power Co.'s head office in Tokyo on Dec. 14 after it was learned earlier this year that the firm rewrote data related to safety reviews necessary to restart its Tsuruga Power Station Unit 2 in central Japan.

    The nuclear watchdog will check related documents and interview Japan Atomic Power employees, based on the nuclear regulation law, through Dec. 15. It is rare for the NRA to make an on-site inspection of a company over issues related to safety reviews.

    At around 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 14, workers of the Secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority entered the building in the capital's Taito Ward housing the Japan Atomic Power head office. The NRA apparently plans to also conduct an inspection on the trouble-ridden power station's No. 2 unit located in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, depending on how the probe at the head office develops. NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa has said, "We hope to clarify the Japan Atomic Power's vision through the inspection."

    Nuclear Regulation Authority officials check documents submitted by Japan Atomic Power Co. in Tokyo's Taito Ward, on Dec. 14, 2020. (Mainichi/Natsuki Nishi)

    Regarding Tsuruga Power Station Unit 2, it has been pointed out that there lies an active fault directly beneath the reactor building, which Japan Atomic Power has argued against, claiming that it's not an active fault line. If it is determined that an active fault runs beneath the building, the firm will not be able to restart the power station.

    The NRA had temporarily halted its safety review of the Tsuruga plant's No. 2 unit after finding 80 data alterations and deletions in documents related to the power plant's geological condition.

    (Japanese original by Hisashi Tsukamoto, Science and Environment News Department)

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