Accident investigators say Japan nuclear safety plans too lax for crowded, quake-prone nation [View all]
Source: Associated Press
Experts who investigated Japan's nuclear crisis said Monday that a watchdog's oversight of the crippled plant's operator is still too lax, amid renewed public fear over a recent spate of safety problems.
But the investigators said the Nuclear Regulation Authority is only rubber-stamping TEPCO's work at the plant that still runs on makeshift equipment.
Nine of the investigators testified at a lower house nuclear committee Monday for the first time since releasing their findings in July. The report called the March 2011 disaster "manmade," and blamed regulator-operator collusion and botched crisis management. The NRA started in September as a more independent, tougher regulator.
TEPCO admitted Sunday it had dismissed earlier signs of water loss as a margin of error and waited until a spike in radiation levels around the tanks was detected. Critics suspect cash-strapped TEPCO built poorly designed underground pits instead of safer and more manageable steel tanks to save money. TEPCO is also criticized for delaying upgrades of makeshift equipment, raising suspicions whether the plant is really under control.