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Fukushima Investigator Says Atomic Power Needs Global Black Box via Bloomberg

The global atomic power industry needs to share cross-border information to prevent nuclear accidents, replicating the transparency of international air-traffic control, said the head of the investigation into Japan’s Fukushima disaster.

Nuclear plant operators and regulators need an international common language and standard for investigating and preventing disasters, Kiyoshi Kurokawa, who headed the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, said in an interview on Dec. 5 in Tokyo.

The airline industry offers a model in the use of flight and voice data recorders, known as black boxes, as a globally accepted means of recording and investigating accidents, he said. The transparency derived from intrusive international oversight in the nuclear industry is necessary to prevent the collusion that contributed to the Fukushima disaster, Kurokawa said. That isn’t happening yet with Japan’s regulator.

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Nuclear Lobbyists

“The NRA has been exchanging information with foreign regulators such as the NRC and the ASN to enhance mutual understanding and competency,” said Tadashi Yamada, spokesman for the NRA’s Policy Review and Public Affairs Division, referring to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and France’s nuclear safety authority.

While the NRA’s legal independence is a step in the right direction, it needs to be more transparent about what it’s doing, Kurokawa said.

That’s especially important as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to restart some of the country’s 50 reactors idled since Fukushima for safety checks, he said.

The prime minister is attempting to get the economy growing and dealing with national security policies, so the mess at Fukushima, where the world’s largest cache of molten nuclear fuel lies trapped beneath the wreckage of reactor buildings, is “maybe not top of the agenda for Abe,” Kurokawa said.

Japan’s nine regional nuclear power utilities retain strong influence in Japanese politics and are lobbying to delay by several years legislation to split the country’s grid from generating plants, Kurokawa said.

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