Japan's nuclear regulator harshly criticized the operator of the damaged Fukushima power plant on Thursday, saying it released misleading data about recent leaks of radioactive water that fanned fears excessively
Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman
Shunichi Tanaka said Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s inadequate expertise caused it
to misrepresent key radiation data about the leaks, and suggested it needed
more hands-on guidance.
"I've come to think they need to
be spoon-fed," Tanaka said. "It is regrettable that TEPCO has caused
confusion and fear in the international community by spreading misleading
Tanaka was particularly concerned
about reports in foreign media that described the recent leaks at the Fukushima
Dai-ichi plant as a new catastrophe.
The government announced plans
Tuesday to fund some measures to contain the leaks. A recent rush of remarks
and actions by Japanese officials are widely seen as an attempt to stress
Tokyo's safety ahead of a vote by the International Olympic Committee on Sunday
to pick the host of the 2020 Olympics. Tokyo is a front-runner.
TEPCO has previously been criticized
for numerous delays in releasing information and in responding to problems at
the damaged plant.
TEPCO acknowledged in July that
contaminated underground water has been flowing into the Pacific Ocean since
soon after a massive earthquake and tsunami hit the plant in 2001, knocking out
its power and cooling systems and causing three reactors to melt.
Recent leaks of radioactive water
from storage tanks have added to fears that TEPCO is unable to cope with the
large amounts of contaminated water generated by the process of cooling the
nuclear fuel in the damaged reactors.
Tanaka said TEPCO improperly
described the radioactivity of "hot spots" recently found near water
storage tanks using a unit that measures potential human exposure levels
instead of one that measures the level of radioactivity of the water itself.
"Nobody in the world does
that," he said. "It's scientifically nonsense."
He said TEPCO often seems to release
unconfirmed information to avoid being accused of covering up.
More than 1,000 tanks have been
hastily built at the plant to store more than 335,000 tons of partially treated
radioactive water. The amount of radioactive water grows by 400 tons daily.By
MARI YAMAGUCHI Associated Press