In their first meeting since Japan created a new, more independent nuclear agency 13 months ago, the top regulator on Monday urged the head of the utility that runs the crippled Fukushima plant to take “drastic steps” to mitigate a spate of mishaps at the complex.
Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka summoned Tokyo Electric Power Co. President Naomi Hirose to his office to express concerns about growing problems at the plant, including human errors that have led to a series of leaks of contaminated water used to cool the damaged reactors.
It was the first time Tanaka met with a utility president in part because of his attempt to counter criticism that the previous nuclear regulator, which was under the wing of the trade and industry ministry, was too close to the utility sector.
Such criticism contributed to the creation last year of a separate, independent nuclear regulator that Tanaka now heads.
Agency officials said the meeting indicated Tanaka’s grave concerns. Tanaka and other commissioners have said they plan to step forward to provide more proactive instructions in the future.
Tanaka also urged the plant to do more to reduce radioactivity at the site to allow workers to work without full-face masks, which distract communication and contribute to hard working conditions.