This Week’s Japanese Nuclear Industry Scandals

As Japan’s current government tries to force through reactor restarts, the process is running into some harsh reality. The NRA has found two major problems and it came out that Toshiba has been significantly falsifying their financial statements to hide major losses.

Japan’s NRA determined for a second time that faults under the Shika nuclear plant may stop it from being allowed to operate. A fault under the unit 1 plant as documented by the NRA would prevent it from being allowed to restart due to the active fault running under the reactor building. A second fault runs under the cooling water intake systems for units 1 and 2. Unless operators can convince the NRA that they have developed sufficient measures to prevent earthquake damage, the second unit may also be prevented from ever restarting.

Executives from Hokuriku Electric insist that their company reviews of the faults show they are not active but did not provide any clear evidence of how the NRA was incorrect in their assessments.

NRA reprimanded Chugoku Electric after it was discovered that they falsified safety screening reports.  This falsification of safety reports is not illegal under Japanese law so the NRA was unable to do much about it. They did say that it shows that the “safety culture” is not good enough. The company owns the Shimane nuclear power plant, one of the plants being considered for restarts by the NRA.

Toshiba’s recent multi billion dollar accounting scandal is said to have been initiated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The company coordinated and overstated profit projections across various corporate divisions to make the massive losses after the nuclear disaster look less significant. The company may also attempt to sell of some of their stake in Westinghouse nuclear. This would likely be at a significant loss since their current over 80% stake was purchased at the height of new reactor hype in 2006. Toshiba may now be fined heavily by the government for their accounting fraud in an attempt to make their financial losses appear less severe.

Currently the earliest restart is now planned for mid August at the Sendai #1 reactor. If that is further delayed it could be another blow to the political plant to force reactor restarts. Previous years government claims for needing restarts hinged on the peak power consumption at the height of summer due to the heat. This was used as a reason to temporarily restart the Oi reactors. There have also been claims that Japan couldn’t meet their power needs over the summer without restarting reactors, this has been proven false for going on five summers.

image credit | bbc

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