Nuclear Industry Gave Millions in Grants to Japans Safety Experts

Four out of the six members on Japanese government panel drafting new nuclear safety regulations each received between three million and 27 million yen in payments, donations and grants from entities in the atomic energy industry in the last three to four years, the Nuclear Regulation Authority said.

But after disclosing the data on Friday, the new nuclear watchdog’s secretariat said all four members “were selected in line with regulations, and there should thus be no problem” over their appointment.

According to the Japan Times, critics, however, cited the risk of their judgment being swayed by power companies and other nuclear-related bodies, and of the possibility that new safety regulations could be watered down.

The NRA requires experts involved in drafting safety standards for nuclear plants and other matters to disclose their remuneration and other payments received, but it has no provision to disqualify them if previously withheld information comes to light, the report said.

Read the rest of the story: Nuclear industry gave millions in grants to Japans safety experts.

Once closed Monju Nuclear Power Plant reopened

Japan’s Monju fast-breeder reactor resumed operations Thursday after 14 years and five months of suspension due to a sodium coolant leak and a resultant fire.

The prototype fast-breeder reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, restarted at 10:36 a.m. after plant staff pulled out rods that had prevented nuclear reaction.

The reactor, operated by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, is expected to reach criticality, or the point when a nuclear chain reaction becomes self-sustaining, on Saturday.

The reactor is then to gradually raise its power output and begin full-fledged operations in the spring of 2013.

Unlike regular light-water reactors that run on uranium, a fast- breeder reactor uses an oxide mix of plutonium and uranium and is designed to generate more plutonium than it burns.

Read the rest of the story: Monju fast-breeder reactor restarts after over 14 years of suspension