Sun, Nov 24, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Fukushima disaster is warning to world, TEPCO boss says

The UK must learn from Japan’s catastrophe as it plans a new generation of plant, the power company head said

By Simon Tisdall  /  The Guardian, TOKYO

TEPCO was investing in the area and creating jobs by building a new thermal power plant, but he acknowledged reconstruction and rebuilding would take many years.

After the Fukushima catastrophe, the UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation conducted a safety review and its chief inspector, Mike Weightman, concluded there were “no fundamental safety weaknesses” in UK nuclear plants. “We already require protection of nuclear sites against the worst-case scenarios that are predictable for the UK.”

His report found 38 areas for improvement including risks associated with flooding and the state of preparedness for emergencies. Last year, documents released under freedom of information rules showed that all eight coastal nuclear locations in the UK, including Hinkley Point, were at risk of flooding and coastal erosion, which would worsen with climate change. EDF Energy said it was confident its UK sites were adequately protected against storms and floods. “Without these arrangements in place the regulator would have the authority to close us down,” an EDF spokeswoman said.

Hirose said that although there are currently no nuclear power plants operating in Japan, nuclear power had a future in the country. Popular former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi called last week for Japan to abandon nuclear power altogether, saying it was demonstrably dangerous.

The best course for Japan and other developed countries was energy diversification, Hirose said, combining nuclear power with other forms of generation, including oil, gas and renewables.

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