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Japan Regulator Tells Tepco to Focus on Fukushima Not Restarts

Japan’s nuclear regulator batted away questions on when it will run safety checks at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, saying the utility should focus on the crisis-ridden Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant.

“The most important thing is to improve the situation” at Fukushima, Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority, said at a briefing with reporters today in Tokyo. The regulator said a report submitted by the utility yesterday on safety measures at Fukushima was inadequate because it doesn’t fully address all the issues.

Tokyo Electric, also known as Tepco, can’t restart the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa facility in western Japan’s Niigata prefecture until the regulator inspects the plant and grants approval. Tepco, which had a loss of 685.3 billion yen ($7 billion) last fiscal year, calls Kashiwazaki-Kariwa key to its return to profitability.

The comments on Kashiwazaki-Kariwa came as the regulator raised concerns about flagging morale among workers and a shortage of staff at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant.

Tepco’s report to the regulator included adding more workers, improving communications and setting up a risk management team to deal with contaminated water. As a mid-and long-term measure, Tepco plans to build concrete barriers outside existing barriers that surround water tanks, according to the report.

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