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Wednesday, 5 January, 2000, 13:50 GMT
Nuclear accident plant to be reopened

Tokaimura plant Nearly 100 people suffered radiation poisoning from the Tokaimura plant


By Tokyo Correspondent Juliet Hindell

Japan's nuclear crisis
The company which owns the uranium processing plant where Japan's worst nuclear accident took place wants to reopen the installation.

The firm, JCO, says it wants to resume operations at the Tokaimura plant as soon as it has resolved safety and compensation issues and gained government approval.

It is the first time JCO has indicated that it wants to continue making nuclear fuel at the plant - 110km northeast of Tokyo. The announcement has triggered local protests.

A JCO company spokesman said the plant could resume operations within a year.

Criminal negligence

The accident happened in September, when three workers accidentally caused nuclear fission, releasing huge amounts of radiation into the atmosphere.


Tokaimura plant Criminal negligence charges may be brought against the plant owners

The workers were following an illegal manual when they mixed large quantities of uranium in a stainless steel bucket.

One of the three men died in December from the effects of being exposed to radiation.

At least 93 other people were affected by lower doses of radiation. The plant was closed down after the accident, and police are expected to bring charges of criminal negligence against the company.

JCO has already paid compensation to businesses in the area which lost money as a result of the accident. It is still negotiating the level of damages to be paid to some individuals.

The mayor of Tokaimura has already reacted angrily to JCO's plans, saying it was inappropriate to talk about restarting operations when so many problems remained unsolved.

The president of JCO, Hiro Haru Kitani, said that some people in the company would be punished for the accident, but he said he could not yet give any specifics.

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See also:
21 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Japan nuclear worker dies
13 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Japan tightens nuclear safety
30 Sep 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Nuclear emergency in Japan
30 Sep 99 |  Sci/Tech
Nuclear reaction may have caused accident

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