Secret data on reactor inspections leaked to Internet

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Confidential information on nuclear power plant inspections was posted on the Internet recently by a virus in the computer of an employee contracted to do the inspections, Mitsubishi Electric Co. said Thursday.

The leak was on data on seven nuclear power plants and 13 thermal and hydroelectric power plants, according to Mitsubishi Electric, which named subsidiary Mitsubishi Electric Plant Engineering Corp. as the contractor in question.

The 20 facilities are run by 12 companies.

The seven nuclear power plants are located in Hokkaido, Fukui, Kagoshima and Saga prefectures and are run by the Hokkaido, Kansai and Kyushu electric power companies and Japan Atomic Power Co.

The leaked data do not contain any information that compromises the security of nuclear material, including details on reactors or how the facilities are guarded, Mitsubishi said.

The computer was apparently infected by a virus that propagates through Winny, a Japanese peer-to-peer file-sharing program, Mitsubishi said.

The leak was about 40 to 50 megabytes -- the equivalent of 30 floppy disks.

The data included several years' worth of inspection reports and manuals, as well as photos from the inspections and health data on workers at the power plants, it said.

A Mitsubishi Electric spokesman said the incident is "truly regrettable" and noted the company is investigating.

"Our company is stepping up management of confidential information and will take steps to prevent a similar incident at the company as well as affiliated concerns," he said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda acknowledged the data leak and said the government has launched its own investigation.

It has not been determined whether "a leak of critical, important information concerning protection of nuclear materials" occurred, the government's top spokesman said. But nuclear plants are important facilities subject to antiterrorism measures, and the government will strengthen management of nuclear information and publicize how the information was leaked once the probe is concluded.

The data are believed to have leaked from the computer of a maintenance management engineer at the Mitsubishi subsidiary, according to the Mitsubishi Electric spokesman.

The engineer used his own computer when inspecting the power plants, and the data are thought to have been leaked through Winny, which was installed in his computer. A virus can apparently cause Winny to send data to other computers on the Internet.

Much of the data is categorized as "industrial secret" or "classified for business purposes," and includes e-mail to the engineer's boss detailing progress on the inspections, according to the spokesman.

A Kepco spokesman said information on regular inspections of the No. 3 reactor at Mihama and the No. 4 reactor at Oi was leaked, including a list of reactor components supplied by Mitsubishi Electric for the Mihama plant.

"Given the nature of his duties, he is not supposed to have information on nuclear materials, so there was no leak of information that would cause problems for protection of nuclear materials," he said.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said it will summon officials of the utilities to report on details on the leak and whether it could compromise safety.

The Japan Times: June 24, 2005
(C) All rights reserved

Informant: Paul Lion


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