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LEAD: No maintenance checks ever done on 25% of roller coasters: gov't.

TOKYO, May 23 Kyodo

(EDS: ADDING GOVT OFFICIAL'S COMMENTS)

Nearly 25 percent of roller coasters and similar rides nationwide have never undergone maintenance checks by amusement park operators, the transport ministry said Wednesday.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport found the problem through an emergency check on 306 such rides nationwide following a fatal roller coaster derailment accident earlier this month.

Of the 306 rides, the operators of 119 have failed to conduct maintenance checks, mainly to find inner cracks, in the past year, while the tests have never been carried out for 72 rides since they opened.

The maintenance check is required at least once a year in a guideline set by the Japanese Industrial Standards Committee under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

A transport ministry official said, ''We take seriously the reality that the required tests have not been conducted in a proper manner and will urge each facility operator to ensure safety management.''

As a result of the ministry's emergency check, cracks and areas of corrosion were detected on the wheels and axles of seven rides in five amusement parks in Tokyo and three other prefectures. But none of the problems were reported to the local municipality.

The problem parts were replaced on six out of the seven, the ministry said.

No flaws were found in 249 of the 306 rides and safety checks were under way on 50. Nine of the 306 rides started operating within the past year, the ministry said.

The ministry plans to urge amusement park operators to report on the ongoing checks and to carry out emergency checks on rides other than roller coasters.

On May 5, a woman died and 19 others were injured after a stand-up roller coaster derailed and hit a steel bar alongside the rail at the Expoland amusement park in Osaka Prefecture.
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Publication:Japan Energy Scan
Date:May 28, 2007
Words:308
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