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Japanese Industry Minister Rebukes Fukushima Plant President Over Radioactive Water Leak

by Anna

Tokyo, Japan – Japan’s Industry Minister, Ken Saito, summoned the president of the utility managing the Fukushima nuclear power plant, chiding him for a recent radioactive water leak at the facility. The incident, involving 1.5 metric tons of highly radioactive water, occurred during valve checks at a treatment machine designed to remove contaminants. The move comes amid heightened sensitivity over mishaps related to contaminated water as the Japanese government seeks support for discharging treated wastewater into the sea.

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Saito emphasized the need for increased safety awareness and preventive measures, urging the president, Tomoaki Kobayakawa, to treat it as a serious management issue. The Fukushima Daiichi plant has faced multiple challenges, including human errors, since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami led to the meltdown of three nuclear reactors.

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In the recent incident, workers left several air valves open during maintenance work, leading to the escape of radioactive water that was initially estimated at 5.5 tons but later downgraded. While no injuries occurred, the leak raised concerns about the safety of the decommissioning process.

Saito called on Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO), the plant operator, to thoroughly examine the mishaps and consider utilizing digital technology to prevent human errors. He emphasized that such incidents could trigger unease locally and globally about the safety of TEPCO’s decommissioning efforts.

Kobayakawa apologized for the mishaps, acknowledging that they should not have occurred from a safety perspective. He expressed a commitment to studying effective ways to prevent human errors and seeking advice from external experts. The incidents have heightened concerns about TEPCO’s controversial plan to discharge treated wastewater into the sea, facing opposition from fishing groups and neighboring countries like China, which has banned imports of Japanese seafood. The Japanese government aims to address concerns and gain credibility through assistance from the International Atomic Energy Agency and reviews affirming that discharges meet international safety standards.

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