Photo/IllutrationTokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Tokyo Electric Power Co. ignored reports on fires and other problems from its nuclear power plants and didn't even bother to share the information in-house or consider precautionary measures, the nuclear watchdog revealed.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority decided Feb. 13 it will investigate the failure by TEPCO's headquarters to tackle the problems reported by its three facilities: the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture and the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear plants, both in Fukushima Prefecture.

A TEPCO official said that the company put off tackling the problems because the deadline for dealing with such matters “was not clearly stated.”

TEPCO's safety regulations stipulate that blazes, glitches in air-conditioning and other problems at nuclear plants must be dealt with by the main office of the operator.

As such, the utility is obliged to find the root of the problem and take precautionary measures to ensure safety at the plant in question and any other facilities it operates.

NRA safety inspectors visited the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant from November through December last year.

They found that the division at company headquarters in charge of dealing with safety issues and sharing that information neglected reports of four problems that had occurred at the plant.

They included fires that broke out at waste disposal buildings at the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors and glitches in the air-conditioning system at the No. 2 reactor.

Officials also determined that there had been numerous instances of a failure to act over the past three years.

They cited 17 cases at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant; five cases at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and seven problems at the headquarters itself.

The NRA said it will closely examine TEPCO's handling of these matters next month to determine the gravity of the violations of safety regulations.