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Running Oi nuclear reactor on an earthquake fault? – a silly decision

Under government guidelines atomic installations cannot be sited on a fault – the meeting place of two or more of the plates that make up the earth’s crust – if it is still classed as active, that is, one that is known to have moved within the last 130,000 years.

Mr Watanabe said a heavy burden rests on those tasked with ensuring public safety, citing the jail sentences imposed on six seismologists in Italy after a court said their underestimation of the possible effects of an earthquake had contributed to the death toll in the central city of L’Aquila.

‘Silly’ to run Japanese nuclear plant on fault line, Herald Sun, AFP November 11, 2012 JAPAN’S only working nuclear power plant sits on what may be a seismic fault in the earth’s crust, a geologist has warned.

Mitsuhisa Watanabe says the earth’s plates could move under the Oi nuclear plant in western Japan, causing a catastrophe to rival last year’s atomic disaster at Fukushima – although some of his colleagues on a nuclear advisory panel disagree.

“It is an active fault. The plates shifted some 120,000 to 130,000
years ago for sure,” Mr Watanabe, of Tokyo’s Toyo University, said.

“In research that I have conducted on active faults in Japan and
overseas, structures built above them were all damaged” when they
moved and caused an earthquake, he said.

Mr Watanabe, a tectonic geomorphologist, is part of a five-member team
tasked by the Nuclear Regulation Authority with looking into the
tectonic situation underneath the plant, which houses the country’s
only working reactors.

Under government guidelines atomic installations cannot be sited on a fault – the meeting place of two or more of the plates that make up the earth’s crust – if it is still classed as active, that is, one that is known to have moved within the last 130,000 years.

A positive finding would mean regulators must order the suspension of
operations at the plant in Fukui prefecture…. instead of the
definitive green light that plant operator Kansai Electric Power
(KEPCO) was hoping for, the committee last week said only that more
work needs to be done….  Watanabe, asked if the government should
allow KEPCO to continue running the plant at Oi, said: “It would be a
very silly option.”

“We would have learned nothing from Fukushima. I’m afraid we would see
a repeat (of the disaster) one day.”

He maintains that the plant could be vulnerable to a sizeable
earthquake, which might “cause a very serious problem … similar to
the Fukushima one”…… Mr Watanabe said a heavy burden rests on those tasked with ensuring public safety, citing the jail sentences imposed on six seismologists in Italy after a court said their underestimation of the possible effects of an earthquake had contributed to the death toll in the central city of L’Aquila.

“We have to sound the alarm as soon as we find the possibility of
active faults,” he said. “The accident in Fukushima had really never
been imagined. Scientists must learn from that.”
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/world/silly-to-run-japanese-nuclear-plant-on-fault-line/story-fnd134gw-1226514743926

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November 12, 2012 - Posted by | Japan, safety

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