Fourth quarter of 2002

Broadscale fallout of Japanese BWR falsification and safety scandal

Calls for an in depth review of the nuclear policy and the cancellation of the MOX program.

WISE-Paris, 11 October 2002

See the following document in PDF format (174 Ko):
Table 1. Safety Problems in Japanese Boiling Water Reactors, and Fig. 1. Japan nuclear power plants

[Posted 11/10/2002]

What has started out as “TEPCO scandal” in September 2002 has turned into a major disaster for the entire Japanese nuclear industry. As of 11 October 2002, five of the 11 Japanese electricity utilities operating nuclear power plants admitted falsifications of safety reports on two thirds (18) of the 28 boiling water reactors (BWR) in the country. All three companies that equipped the Japanese BWR vessels are implicated in the cover-up of safety related problems.

The initial whistle blowing of July 2000 which turned into a tornado two years later (1), revealed what is probably the world’s most spectacular nuclear safety scandal so far. The falsification at the UK MOX fabrication plant that, ironically, led the Japanese industry to return a batch of fuel with doubtful quality control record; seems like a minor incident compared to the story unwrapping in Japan.

The scandal not only shakes up the entire Japanese nuclear policy and especially the “Pluthermal” program (2)], but also jeopardizes the European nuclear MOX industry’s hopes for a series of long term contracts. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) faces an overwhelming distrust of its nuclear policy and its capability to control the industry. In fact, General Electric International Inc., Toshiba and Hitachi, which equipped all the Japanese BWR vessels were also the companies to carry out safety inspections on the very same equipments. The Governor of Aomori Prefecture, hosting the site of the operating spent fuel storage facility and the reprocessing plant under construction has called for the separation of state safety control from METI and threatened to block further spent fuel shipments to Rokkasho-mura (3). The Fukushima prefectural assembly has voted unanimously to reject the MOX program and to call for a review of the national energy policy. Moreover, only one company, Hokuriku, of the six Japanese electric utilities operating the BWRs has not been involved in the scandal, and this company operates only one reactor (see the table hereunder). None of the 23 Japanese Pressurized Water Reactors has been involved in the scandal. Not yet?


  1. See also WISE-Paris Our News, “Whistleblowing turns into tornado: TEPCO’s falsification of safety records plunges Japanese nuclear industry into deep crisis.”, 16 September 2002
  2. See also WISE-Paris Others’ News, “Point of View of Hitoshi Yoshioka: `National policy' being forced on power firms”, The Asahi Shimbun, 5 October 2002
  3. See also WISE-Paris Others’ News, “Toughen safety controls - Nuclear regulatory agencies must be integrated”, The Asahi Shimbun Editorial, 5 October, 2002

See the following document in PDF format (174 Ko):
Table 1. Safety Problems in Japanese Boiling Water Reactors, and Fig. 1. Japan nuclear power plants

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