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Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2007

Nuclear foes tell IAEA to make thorough probe

Staff writer

OSAKA — Three Japan-based antinuclear groups called Monday on the International Atomic Energy Agency to carry out a comprehensive, unbiased probe into the earthquake damage at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power plant in Niigata Prefecture.

They also said the IAEA should vigorously pursue not only what happened but why the complex was allowed to be built on an active fault line.

The groups have demanded that the four-day IAEA investigation that began Monday not yield a hasty conclusion that the damaged seven-reactor complex, the world's largest in terms of power output, could at some point in the future be restarted.

The letter, sent to IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei and an IAEA team of experts currently in Niigata investigating the damaged power plant, was signed by Citizens' Nuclear Information Center, Greenpeace Japan and Green Action.

The letter asks the IAEA to make it a priority to analyze the reasons for the lapses in judgment on the part of Tokyo Electric Power Co. officials and the central government regarding the original seismic survey, plant design and construction approval process.

Such an investigation should be carried out before concluding their report on the postearthquake safety status of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa complex, the groups said, noting the international ramifications of the damage from the magnitude-6.8 temblor.

"Given the shifting seismic cycle with a trend toward stronger earthquakes along the Ring of Fire in the Pacific, carrying out the most thorough and precise investigation as possible at this time is not only in the interest of the Japanese people but also in the critical interest of everyone who may come closely under the circles of influence of possible nuclear facilities to be built the world over in the coming years and decades," the letter reads.

Antinuclear activists worry that without a thorough investigation by international experts, Japan will sweep the incident under the rug.

"Neither the Japanese government nor Tokyo Electric can be trusted to investigate the effects of this earthquake. The government-appointed committees are stacked with pronuclear industry people," said Aileen Mioko Smith, director of Kyoto-based Green Action.

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The Japan Times

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