Tepco president to step down following nuclear safety scandal

3 September 2002 – Nobuya Minami is to leave his post as president of Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) in October after the utility admitted its safety reports on nuclear power plants were falsified.

Tepco, which is Japan’s largest utility, has shut down five of reactors in order to carry out safety checks, although the government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has told the company these cases, “have no serious impact on the safety of the reactors in operation”.

The resignation of Minami will take place a few weeks after Hiroshi Araki resigns as Tepco chairman. Araki chairs the committee on corporate behaviour at Japan Business Federation.

The scandal came to light after a whistle-blower at maintenance contractor General Electric International (GEI) , the Japanese arm of the US company, revealed that safety reports on cracked and corroded equipment had been falsified during the 1980s and 1990s.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is investigating both Tepco and GEI and the apparent cover-up has reawakened fears about safety in Japan’s nuclear industry. Three years ago an accident at a uranium reprocessing plant led to the deaths of two workers and exposed hundreds of residents to radiation.

The incidents of cracks and corrosion which have been revealed recently involve the stainless steel “shroud” that envelopes the reactor core which is an essential part of the safety structure.

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