TEPCO unaware of cause of smoke at Niigata nuclear plant in latest blunder

TEPCO unaware of cause of smoke at Niigata nuclear plant in latest blunder

Source: Xinhua 2017-02-23 18:41:10 More

TOKYO, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) — Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) on Thursday said that it had detected smoke billowing from a service room near two reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, located on the west coast of Honshu island.

TEPCO said that there was no radiation leak as a result of the possible fire which occurred close to its Sea of Japan-facing reactors, although the utility has yet to comment on the cause of the fire.

The plant operator said that it noticed smoke billowing out of a locker room inside the service building near its No. 6 and No. 7 reactors at the facility. It said the service building was not a radiation controlled area.

The two reactors close to the possible fire which occurred at some point before 3:25 p.m. local time are currently being screened by Japan’s nuclear regulation authority as TEPCO is pushing for more of its plant’s reactors to be brought back online.

However, TEPCO, operator of the Daiichi plant in Fukushima that underwent multiple meltdowns after being hit by an earthquake-triggered tsunami in 2011, resulting in the worst commercial nuclear disaster in history that has yet to be fully brought under control, has been involved in a number of monumental gaffes since the 2011 disaster.

Most recently, on Feb. 15, Japan’s nuclear watchdog blasted the utility for providing an extensive amount of inaccurate information related to plans to restart the two reactors in Niigata.

TEPCO admitted that it had submitted information from three years ago that contained inaccurate information about buildings at TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata.

The buildings were to be used as headquarters in case of an emergency.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) heard from TEPCO officials that one of the buildings failed to meet the regulator’s earthquake resistance standards in all 7 tests required to be passed by the NRA.

The embattled utility said that the building had failed only 5 out of 7 of the NRA’s tests and as a result told the regulator that was in the final stages of screening the No. 6 and 7 reactors that the building would not be used.

TEPCO said its gaffe at that time was due to a communication problem between departments, to which the NRA slammed the error as being unacceptable and demanded further details and for TEPCO to resolve its blunder.

The Japanese government has said it will likely continue its effective state ownership of TEPCO because the expected costs for decommissioning the Daiichi plant and paying compensation to the victims continue to escalate, with preventable oversights doing little to keep costs down or the timeframe for the decommissioning work.

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