Utility apologizes for urging workers to mail support for reactor resumption

07/07/2011
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The Genkai Nuclear Power Plant is located at the town of Genkai in the Saga Prefecture. It is owned and operated by the Kyūshū Electric Power Company

SAGA (majirox news) — Kyushu Electric Power Co. (Kyuden) has apologized for urging employees of subsidiaries to respond to a government sponsored TV program about the halted Genkai nuclear power plant by e-mailing messages supporting its restart.

Kyuden President Toshio Manabe apologized at a July 6 news conference held in response to the message Kyuden officials sent out to its employees and workers at subsidiaries imploring them to advocate repowering the Genkai reactor.

Kyuden strong-armed the workers to respond to a government-sponsored TV program that aired in late June to explain the situation at the plant to Saga prefecture residents.

“We have caused a loss of faith in the government’s explanation,” Manabe told reporters. “I would like to apologize.”

Nuclear reactors undergoing routine inspections have been shut down nationwide and concrete dates to restart them have not been set. The restart of the Genkai reactor was seen as a key to determining the fate of halted reactors across Japan, but this scandal means it will not fire up again this summer. The government’s program was produced to help prefectural residents to determine whether to support restarting Genkai’s No. 1 and No. 2 reactors, which had been halted to undergo a routine inspection.

On Wednesday, Minister for the Economy, Trade and Industry Banri Kaieda released a new stress test for all nuclear power plants in Japan. This is expected to add further delays to all plants currently shut down, including those at Genkai, which had originally been slated as capable of resuming operations in mid-July.

Kyuden said a section manager at its headquarters on June 22 sent out an e-mail under the company name to employees of four Kyuden subsidiaries involved in nuclear power generation operations and urged them to respond to the government’s program by e-mailing expressions of their support for restarting Genkai. Combined, the four subsidiaries — Nishinippon Plant Engineering and Construction Co., Kyuden Sangyo, West Japan Engineering Consultants Inc. and Nishimu Electronics Industries Co. employ about 2,300 people, but how many of them followed the Kyuden request and mailed in their support remains unknown.

robert@majiroxnews.com

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