JAPAN: police take action against nuclear firm over safety failures

Hundreds of police have raided the offices of JCO co, the owner of the uranium processing plant that caused the country's worst ever nuclear accident last week. The raid was to collect evidence of safety violations, and is expected to be followed by formal charges.

President, Hiroharu Kitani is expected to be charged with violating safety regulations. The company has admitted to changing its safety manual, without informing the Government, and allowing the manual transfer of uranium in buckets instead of using appropriate equipment, says the Kyodo News Agency.

The number of people who suffered radiation exposure during the accident was almost certainly higher than the Government estimates of forty-nine due to the high levels of neutron radiation, coupled with the slow evacuation of the area, Greenpeace said today, based on results of an investigation around the site.

“Greenpeace undertook this survey in order to provide some independent assessment of the levels of radiation and the extent of contamination resulting from the Tokaimura accident,” said Greenpeace Japan executive director, Sanae Shida. “Our results raise further serious questions about the Japanese Government’s nuclear safety and emergency planning procedures and the safety of the nuclear industry in general.”

Japan’s Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi visited the scene of the accident this week, where he plans for new safety legislation on the nuclear industry, in an attempt “to restore public confidence in the nuclear industry.

According to Reuters, JCO’s parent company has decided to close down JCO and withdraw from the nuclear industry, in the likelihood that it’s license will be revoked.

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