News bites: Documents reveal US fears about Japanese nuclear security. Plus, the latest on gas prices, and more

Lots of nuclear ...

The Wall Street Journal
reports on newly released WikiLeaks documents showing that U.S. officials have for years feared that anti-terror safeguards at Japanese nuclear plants are too lax.

The New York Times used a big weekend story to probe the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, noting critics call the agency “well-intentioned but weak and compliant, and incapable of keeping close tabs on an industry to which it remains closely tied.”

The Times also reports Monday that Japanese PM Naoto Kan has indicated the country is not backing away from nuclear energy.

A nuclear power plant in central Japan is shutting down over safety concerns, The Associated Press reports.

And some gas-price coverage ...

Reuters reports that a closely watched survey shows that average gas prices have hit $4 per gallon, but they might be peaking and could head south as oil prices fall.

USA Today reports that separate Energy Department data to be released Monday could also show the average has reached $4. “Crude oil prices started dropping last week, so even if gas prices hit $4 a gallon, they probably won't stay there long,” the paper notes.

Finally, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports on the lower-than-expected use of a fund set up for workers affected by the temporary drilling freeze imposed after the BP spill.

“With an application deadline looming Friday, the nonprofit administrator of BP's $100 million Rig Worker Assistance Fund is baffled by the lack of interest in aid the oil giant has offered to help offshore workers who were forced to stop drilling-related activities after last year's oil spill,” the paper reports.