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May 31, 2016 3:20

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19:54 3 March 2016

Volcanologists on nuclear regulatory panel accepted utility donations

TOKYO, March 3, Kyodo

Two volcanologists involved in judging whether restarted nuclear reactors should be halted due to nearby volcanic activity received 8.1 million yen ($71,000) in donations from utility-linked companies in the past, documents showed Thursday.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority appointed the two, both from Kagoshima University, as part of a six-member panel to check for signs of a major volcanic eruption near Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s Sendai plant, which is located in a volcanically active region in southwestern Japan.

The revelation that the two -- professor emeritus Tetsuo Kobayashi and professor Hiroki Miyamachi -- received funds from affiliates of nuclear power plant operators, including Kyushu Electric, may raise suspicions about the panel's decisions, critics said.

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