Nuclear regulator chief says Fukushima Daiichi recriticality “physically impossible”

Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, visited the Minamisoma city government for talks with Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai on Oct. 22. Regarding Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Tanaka said, “We are no longer in a situation that prevents residents from returning (to their evacuated hometowns). Recriticality is physically impossible.” When asked by Sakurai to present a standard for radiation levels that would be regarded as safe for residents to consider returning, Tanaka stopped short of providing a specific figure and only said, “We can’t say what amount will be good. It will depend on the residents’ way of thinking.” The two also discussed the issue of radioactive cesium contamination found in some of the rice crops produced in the city’s Haramachi district in 2013. When Sakurai called for investigations into the cause, Tanaka said, “It is the farm ministry’s role to find out exactly what happened,” indicating he wants the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to look further into the issue. Separately, Tanaka also met Mayor Satoshi Endo of Hirono town on the same day and, on Oct. 23, visited the mayors of Okuma and Tomioka towns, located close to the nuclear plant, as part of a series of talks with the heads of 12 municipalities designated as evacuation zones as a result of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. (Translated by Kyodo News)