Tepco apologizes to Niigata governor over nuclear plant security flaws

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Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. President Tomoaki Kobayakawa on Thursday offered an apology to Hideyo Hanazumi, governor of Niigata Prefecture, over a series of security flaws at the firm’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant.

“I sincerely apologize for causing great concern,” Kobayakawa told Hanazumi in their meeting at the prefectural government office in the city of Niigata, the capital. “We will make all-out efforts to identify the causes (of the flaws) and advance drastic reforms,” he said.

Hanazumi criticized Tepco, saying that the problems, including insufficient measures to protect the facility located between the city of Kashiwazaki and the village of Kariwa against possible terror attacks, “seriously damaged Niigata residents’ trust” in the company.

“The current situation makes us question” the qualification of the company as a nuclear power plant operator, the governor said. “Having heard your words (of apology and pledge), I now want you to put what you said into action and achieve results,” he added.

Kobayakawa said, “We will rebuild the power plant with a determination that we should be reborn.”

Later in the day, Kobayakawa attended a meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Niigata prefectural chapter to give an explanation on the series of problems.

Mineo Ono, secretary-general of the local chapter, condemned Tepco, saying, “We have no other choice but to say that the company has done nothing in the 10 years since the accident at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.”

Heavily damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the plant in Fukushima Prefecture experienced the worst nuclear accident in the country’s history.

Ono urged the company to think about what it should do from now on while keeping in mind the possibility of ending operations at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

Following the revelation of problems at the plant, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has decided to ban Tepco from moving nuclear fuel at the facility.

Kobayakawa is scheduled to meet with Kashiwazaki Mayor Masahiro Sakurai and Kariwa Mayor Hiroo Shinada on Friday.

The Niigata Prefectural Assembly is expected to summon Kobayakawa next month to testify over the series of issues.

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