Japan's new Nuclear Regulation Authority has scrapped plans to make stress tests a prerequisite for the reopening of Japan's idled nuclear power plants.
Radiation physicist and chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority Shunichi Tanaka told a news conference, "It is a good thing to make businesses focus on safety, but I'm not going to make stress tests a prerequisite to restarting reactors," TBS reported.
Tanaka said the organization plans to draw up new regulations in regard to restarting Japan's idled nuclear power plants based on the results of a study of Japan's active fault lines that will start next month.
When asked about the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, at which two reactors underwent stress tests before being restarted, Tanaka replied, "I do not have the authority to stop those reactors."
In February of this year, the former Nuclear Safety Commission Chairman Haruki Madarame said the first round stress tests were insufficient because they only examined essential safety equipment used in times of natural disasters. Madarame emphasized that a second stage of stress testing was necessary. Those comments came shortly after the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency controversially cut off a debate by a panel of experts and gave their approval to the Oi stress test results.
The new Nuclear Regulation Authority was established on Sept 19 and charged with overseeing the safety of Japan's atomic reactors, supposedly marking a fresh start in nuclear regulation. However, the organization immediately came under fire from lawmakers and civic groups when it was announced that Tanaka, who previously served key positions in bodies that donated to Japan's nuclear energy drive before the Fukushima crisis, would be made chairman. Tanaka was appointed under the authority of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda without winning Diet approval.
The organization has also been criticized for having been created under the umbrella of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which promotes nuclear power.© Japan Today