There was a report in the New York Times that thousands of employees of energy corporations in Japan are working long hours, under stressful conditions to prepare the paper work so that the nuclear reactors can start again.
A task force of about 90 inspectors with the Nuclear Regulation Authority dispatches orders and requests to hundreds of employees from the regional utilities. As many as 2,800 employees at Mitsubishi Heavy are involved in dealing with the utilities’ requests on specifications and other data, the company said….A typical working day for them lasts from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. They stay in inexpensive business hotels within a quick commute of the authority headquarters in a leafy district of Tokyo. Any downtime not spent returning home to visit families is used to prepare for more meetings with the regulator.
“Everyone involved in the safety reviews is irritated, and it is mentally draining,” said one employee at a regional utility, who has been stationed in Tokyo since July and has missed important dates on his children’s school calendar. The employee was not identified because he was authorized to speak to the news media.
“I can’t read books or watch TV. There’s no time to relax,” he said, adding he rarely had time even to wash his clothes. “I have 20 sets of underwear and socks bought from convenient stores, rolled up like sushi in my office.”
Utilities must submit thousands of pages of documents outlining their compliance and readiness on a checklist of 27 main items required by the authority, including earthquake protection and their plans for emergency responses.
There is all of this activity on the part of bureaucrats. In this case, the outcome has been given: nuclear power must be supported. The impossible task for the bureaucrats is to justify the conclusion. If only doing paper work could solve problems. Is is possible that all potential problems can be anticipated and regulated flawlessly? Is all human error to be eliminated, and unanticipated disasters to be foreseen? There is a desperate search to find the facts to support the political policy.