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Japan Manufacturer to Inspect Nuke Plants

May 21, 2003

TOKYO (AP) _ Japan’s largest builder of nuclear power plants said Wednesday it planned to check for defective workmanship at five reactors in western Japan after it was threatened by a former worker for one of its subcontractors who claimed he had deliberately underwelded parts.

A spokesman for Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. described the checks as precautionary and said computer simulations indicated there was no safety risk even if the man’s claims were true.

Mitsubishi Heavy recently received three letters from a man who used to work for one of the company’s subcontractors in the western state of Hyogo saying he had made weaker welds on plates used to support pumps in the steam generators of nuclear power plants, said spokesman Hiroyuki Yamakado.

The man threatened to inform the utility companies that operate the plants unless Mitsubishi Heavy instructed the subcontractor to pay him 40 million yen ($350,000), Yamakado said.

He said Mitsubushi Heavy had alerted police and was preparing to carry out safety checks in conjunction with the operators of five reactors in western Japan that may have used parts from the subcontractor.

One of the operators, Kansai Electric Power Co., said Wednesday its workers had already visually inspected the plates in question at two of its reactors and found nothing unusual. The company is planning to conduct ultrasonic wave checks on the welds, said spokesman Kimihito Kawabata.

A spokesman for police in Hyogo confirmed that Mitsubishi Heavy had reported the threatening letters but declined to comment further.

Yamakado declined to name the subcontractor or its former worker.

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