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Tepco Leaves Group Founded By Fukushima Probe Chief to Cut Costs

Tokyo Electric Power Co., owner of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, has dropped its membership of a nonprofit group founded by the person leading the investigation into the worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl.

The utility known as Tepco notified the Association for the Study of Failure in April it won’t renew its membership for the year ending March 2012 because of financial constraints, Kenji Iino, executive director of the research group, said by telephone from Tokyo today.

The association was founded in 2002 by engineering professor Yotaro Hatamura, who was appointed on May 24 to head the independent investigation into the accident at Tepco’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant. The utility posted a record loss following three reactor meltdowns at the station after an earthquake and tsunami on March 11 knocked out power and backup generators, crippling its cooling systems.

“We are looking into various restructuring measures,” Tepco spokesman Takeo Iwamoto said by telephone today. “We plan to drop memberships of outside groups.”

Corporate members of the association pay annual membership fees of at least 100,000 yen ($1,248) each, Iino said, declining to give details of how much Tepco paid since it became a member in 2003.

The group studies accidents using a method that focuses on design flaws, human error and how designers fail to see future changes in use.

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