Kashiwazaki nuclear plant better coped to deal with terrorism: IAEA

International Atomic Energy Agency experts said Tuesday the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, is better coped to deal with terrorism following improvements in its security measures.

The finding came after a nine-day mission to evaluate whether operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.'s counterterrorism measures meet international standards.

The review came in the wake of a series of safety flaws, resulting in a two-year operational ban that ended in December.

The operator of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, one of the world's largest nuclear plants by output, is hoping to restart the facility after the central government designated low carbon nuclear power as a significant contributor to the country's power generation mix.

IAEA team member Tapani Hack said at a meeting joined by Takeyuki Inagaki, TEPCO's superintendent at the plant, that the team has confirmed the plant is continuously improving its measures to protect nuclear materials.

Inagaki, in response, vowed to make further improvements to assure local people of the plant's safety.

Following their inspection, carried out from March 25, the IAEA's five-person team recommended further improvements and said its final report will be presented to TEPCO in the next few weeks.

Since January 2021, a defective intruder detection system and other security shortcomings were discovered at the plant, leading the Nuclear Regulation Authority to issue an operational ban the following April.

The ban was lifted last December after Japan's nuclear watchdog confirmed the operator had fixed the problems.

With local consent being the key, Japan's industry minister Ken Saito asked Niigata Gov. Hideyo Hanazumi for his support in rebooting the plant in March, but Hanazumi remains cautious about the restart as many residents have lost faith in TEPCO due to the security issues.

© Kyodo News