Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency Requested That Chubu Electric Power Fill Seats and Plant Questions at Public Forum About Company’s Nuclear MOX Project
Yomiuri Shimbun: 保安院、中電にやらせ質問要請…社員に強制せず
2:02 PM July 29, 2011
Chubu Electric Power Company, at the request of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), requested its own employees and business partners attend a federally sponsored public forum about the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant’s MOX Project in August 2007 so that the audience would not be unanimously opposed to the project, according to an internal investigation by the Ministry of Trade, Economy, and Industry whose results were announced on the 29th.
The company says it “did not compel its employees to express a particular opinion,” and it refused to use questions NISA planted in the audience. Since NISA is a nuclear power regulator, the news that it was trying to tilt an open forum in favor of nuclear development is likely to provoke controversy.
After the investigators uncovered a staged email question about reactors 2 and 3 of Kyushu Electric Power’s Genkai Nuclear Power Plant (Genkai, Saga Prefecture), it requested a response from the power company by the 29th. According to Chubu Electric Power, before the symposium on August 26, 2007, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency told the company (1) to recruit attendees so there wouldn’t be a noticeable number of empty seats, (2) to prepare questions in advance for citizens in the crowd to ask so the Q&A session would not be dominated by people opposeed to the project. The company called for employees, affiliated companies, and locals to attend but said it was “a voluntary decision, and the company would not use a numerical quota or name registry to enforce attendance.”
NISA and the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy planned the symposium to explain the safety of the MOX project. According to the company, about 150 of the 524 people in attendance were its own employees, and it does not know how many of the rest were members of business affiliates. A questionnaire was given asking the attendees about the necessity of the MOX project, and 80% of the responses were positive (“I understand” or “I mostly understand”). At a press conference at company headquarters, Legal Division Chief Shūichi Terata said, “Our biggest goal was to make sure there wouldn’t be a noticeable number of empty seats. We weren’t planning to make a show of the questionnaire results.”
Nuclear Disaster Response Auditor Yoshinori Moriyama, who was the Chief Nuclear Power Safety Inspector when he attended the forum and who spoke for NISA at today’s press conference, said “I don’t recall [our organization making those requests to the company]. If it did happen, it shouldn’t have.”