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Doctor Chris Busby about the nuclear mud dumping issue in Wales, United Kingdom

Doctor Chris Busby dealing about the nuclear mud dumping issue in Wales, pointing the dangers of such project for the population’s health. The local politicians putting money over health.

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February 18, 2018 Posted by | EUROPE, UK | , , | 1 Comment

Media reports de-romanticize the cleanup work on the Fukushima nuclear power plant

p17-brasor-fukushima-a-20180218-870x579.jpgFront-line fight: Workers remove protective clothing after a shift at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in November 2011.

 
Most of the reliable reporting about the clean-up of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant since it suffered three meltdowns in March 2011 has been from on-site workers. Even when articles appear in major media outlets about the situation at the crippled reactor, it’s usually presented through the anonymous or pseudonymous firsthand experiences of the men on the front lines.
Some have become famous. The public would not know much about the situation without Kazuto Tatsuta’s manga series, “Ichiefu” (or “1F” — shorthand for “Fukushima No. 1”), the writings of former letter carrier and cleanup worker Minoru Ikeda, or the books and tweets of a man known as “Happy” who has been working as an employee at the plant.
Because these individuals directly address what they and their colleagues have gone through on a daily basis, the work they do has been de-romanticized. It’s not as heroic as initial foreign media reports made it out to be. If anything, it’s tedious and uncomplicated.
Workers are concerned about those matters that all blue-collar laborers worry about — pay and benefits — which isn’t to suggest they don’t think about the possible health risks of radiation exposure. Last October, Ikeda talked to the comedy duo-cum-nuclear power reporters Oshidori Mako & Ken on the web channel Jiyu-na Radio about potential false reports on radiation levels around Fukushima, although also touching on health issues that have not been reported by the mainstream media. His main point was that serious illnesses may not manifest themselves until years after workers quit the site and thus no longer qualify for worker’s compensation. In other words, the workers understand the risk. They just want to be fairly compensated for it.
In that regard, one of the most common gripes from on-site reporters is the “hazard compensation” (kiken teate) workers are supposed to receive. Recently, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (Tepco), which is both responsible for the accident and in charge of the cleanup, announced a reduction in outlay associated with the hazard compensation, which is paid as a supplement to wages. This compensation can add as much as ¥20,000 a day to a worker’s pay, but now that Tepco says radiation levels have dropped, they will no longer provide the compensation, or, at least, not as much as they have been paying.
A special report in the Jan. 22 Tokyo Shimbun attempted to explain how this change will affect workers and the work itself. In March 2016, Tepco divided the work area into three zones: red, for high radiation levels; yellow, for some radioactivity; and green, for areas that had no appreciable radioactivity. Workers interviewed by Tokyo Shimbun say they’ve never liked this system because they feel it “has no meaning.” Rubble from the red zone is routinely transferred to the green zone, where heavy machinery kicks up a lot of dust, so there’s no physical delineation between zones when it comes to radiation levels. On the ground, this reality is addressed by subcontractors who make their employees in the green zone — which constitutes 95 percent of the work site — wear extra protective gear, even though Tepco doesn’t require it.
But the workers’ main gripe about the zone system is that most of them ended up being paid less and, as on-site workers have often explained, they weren’t getting paid as much as people thought they were. Contractors advertise high wages to attract workers, but then subtract things like room and board, utility fees, clothing and equipment. And it’s been known for years that the hazard compensation was more or less a racket gamed by the contractors standing between Tepco, which distributes the compensation, and the workers, who are supposed to be the beneficiaries. There can be up to six layers of contractors between Tepco and a worker, and each layer may take a cut of the compensation. In 2014, four workers sued Tepco for ¥62 million, saying they worked at the site but received none of the promised hazard compensation.
That situation still seems to be in play, according to Tokyo Shimbun. Several subcontractors told the newspaper they receive the compensation for their workers not from Tepco directly but from the contractor that hired them, and in most cases the compensation has been reduced, sometimes by more than half. One subcontractor said that a company above them actually apologized for the paucity of the compensation they were handing down because their “revenues had decreased.” The man known as Happy told Tokyo Shimbun that Tepco is ordering less work at the site, which means existing subcontractors may cut wages in order to compete for these dwindling jobs. Some contractors have even invested in the robots that are used to inspect the reactor, because they want the work to continue without interruption.
It was common practice to rotate out workers toiling in the highly radioactive areas regularly and quickly and then re-assign them to low-radiation areas. After some time they may have been rotated back into the high-radiation area, where pay is more. The man known as Happy says this sort of system now seems to be on the way out, and that makes sense if radiation is actually decreasing. However, he’s afraid that if there is another emergency that requires a sudden influx of workers, they won’t be available.
Tepco is obviously thinking of its bottom line, and the man known as Happy thinks the work should be managed by the government, which is contributing tax money to the cleanup. However, it seems only the Japan Communist Party is reading the dispatches from the plant. Last May, Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Taku Yamazoe questioned Tepco President Naomi Hirose about the hazard compensation in the Diet, and why the structure of payments to workers wasn’t clear.
Hirose said that while his company intends that the money goes to workers, he cannot say for sure that is the case because of the circumstances surrounding Tepco’s relationships with contractors. With work on the wane, it seems unlikely that those workers will see any of the money that’s owed to them, retroactively or otherwise.

February 18, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Inside a meltdown-hit Fukushima reactor building

February 17, 2018
Seven years on, Tepco aims to pull fuel out of Unit 3’s rubble-strewn pool
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A crane and dome-shaped roof have been erected on the top floor of Fukushima Daiichi’s No. 3 building, in preparation for removing rods and rubble from the spent fuel pool
 
FUKUSHIMA, Japan — As the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster unfolded in March 2011, a hydrogen explosion ripped through the No. 3 reactor unit. Nearly seven years on, steel framing and other debris still litter the spent fuel pool, along with 566 fuel rods.
The painstaking process of removing the rods is expected to begin sometime in the fiscal year that starts in April. The fuel extraction will be a first for reactor Nos. 1-3 at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings facility, which was crippled by the earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan.
On Feb. 8, reporters from The Nikkei were allowed into the No. 3 building to get a sense of the work that awaits. 
A 20-minute bus ride from the town of Tomioka took us to Fukushima Daiichi. After donning masks and protective clothing, we walked toward Unit 3. An elevator slowly lifted us to the top floor of the building, about 36 meters up. There, a crane for moving the spent rods stood ready, wrapped in plastic sheeting. We peered down into the pool but could not see the fuel, which lies under 4 to 5 meters of water.
Large slabs of rubble that fell into the pool have been removed, but smaller pieces remain.
Other decontamination work is proceeding gradually. Radiation on the top floor was measured as high as 2,000 millisieverts per hour in the disaster’s immediate aftermath, but now it is less than 1 millisievert.
Still, caution is a must. Near the pool, our dosimeters displayed relatively high readings of up to 0.7 of a millisievert per hour. “The reading has climbed, so let’s leave for now,” a Tepco supervisor said. As we moved on, we frequently checked to ensure our exposure would not exceed 0.1 of a millisievert a day. 
 
Spent fuel has been removed from reactor No. 4, which was not operating when the tsunami hit the plant. But the job will be a challenge at the meltdown-stricken Unit 3. The rods and rubble will be extracted with heavy equipment operated remotely, from a separate administrative building. 
While it normally takes about two weeks to remove spent fuel, Tepco intends to proceed carefully over the course of two years.

February 18, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

NOAA research plane flying over Alaska has detected enriched U-235

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An aerosol particle containing enriched uranium encountered in the remote upper troposphere
 
Highlights
• We describe a highly unusual aerosol particle containing a very small amount of enriched uranium.
• The bulk of the particle probably came from combustion of heavy fuel oil.
• The particle was encountered when we were making no special attempt to sample radioactive material.
• We don’t know the source for this particle. It may indicate a novel source where enriched uranium was dispersed.
 
Abstract
We describe a submicron aerosol particle sampled at an altitude of 7 km near the Aleutian Islands that contained a small percentage of enriched uranium oxide. 235U was 3.1 ± 0.5% of 238U. During twenty years of aircraft sampling of millions of particles in the global atmosphere, we have rarely encountered a particle with a similarly high content of 238U and never a particle with enriched 235U. The bulk of the particle consisted of material consistent with combustion of heavy fuel oil. Analysis of wind trajectories and particle dispersion model results show that the particle could have originated from a variety of areas across Asia. The source of such a particle is unclear, and the particle is described here in case it indicates a novel source where enriched uranium was dispersed.
 

February 18, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

After 3 years of taint-free rice, Fukushima mulls review of checks

February 16, 2018
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A harvested rice bag is certified as having passed a radiation level inspection in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, on Oct. 5, 2016.
FUKUSHIMA–Authorities are weighing random checks instead of blanket radiation testing of rice grown in the prefecture as three years have passed without incident.
There has not been a single case during that time of tainted rice exceeding the national safety standard, officials explained.
Blanket checks were introduced in 2012 in response to the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant the year before and consumer concerns about food safety.
Harvested rice is checked bag by bag for certification before shipment. The safety threshold is set by the government at 100 becquerels per kilogram.
But some farmers’ groups and other parties remain wary of a switch to random inspections due to lingering suspicions that rice from Fukushima Prefecture remains hazardous.
Since blanket checks began, prefectural officials have inspected 60 million or so bags of rice totaling 2.1 million tons. Not a single instance of tainted rice has emerged since 2015.
Given that exhaustive steps have been taken to reduce the absorption in crops of radioactive substances and that the inspection process places a burden on farmers and related parties, officials are trying to find the best timing to implement a review of the testing method.
Fukushima Prefecture announced plans in January to review the process, but for the time being will keep blanket checks in place.
Discussions are being held to introduce random inspections in as early as three years. A decision will be announced in fiscal 2018.
Authorities also plan a publicity blitz to put lingering safety concerns to rest about grain from Fukushima.
Other agricultural products from the prefecture are subject to random testing.
Agricultural experts and others have no qualms about switching to random testing, but the Japan Agricultural Cooperative in Fukushima is calling for discussions to first elaborate on what random inspections will entail to help alleviate safety concerns and restore the reputation of rice grown in the prefecture.
In 2010, before the nuclear disaster unfolded, Fukushima Prefecture ranked fourth in terms of rice production with annual output at around 445,000 tons.
Even after the disaster, it has ranked within the top 10.
However, the wholesale price of Fukushima rice has not returned to pre-disaster levels in spite of the blanket inspections.
A survey by a consumer affairs group in the prefecture in 2017 found that 66.2 percent of 1,550 respondents favor continued blanket testing.
Although the figure was 6.9 points lower than a survey the previous year, it still shows that food safety concerns remains a major issue.

February 18, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima town of Namie to launch radioactive decontamination work around May

February 16, 2018
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Around May, decontamination work will begin in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, to make some of its most radioactive areas habitable again, the government said.
Namie was hit hard by the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami and nuclear disaster in 2011, and entry is effectively prohibited for about 80 percent of it.
By March 2023, the government hopes to lift the evacuation order for three parts consisting of 660 hectares. The areas scheduled for decontamination cover about 3.7 percent of the town.
To rebuild areas tainted by the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power, the government approved a plan submitted by Namie on Dec. 22.
Similar efforts got underway in neighboring Futaba in December and more are scheduled to start in the town of Okuma in March. The two towns cohost the crippled plant. The first round in Namie will cover about 30 hectares.
On March 11, 2011, tsunami inundated the six-reactor plant and knocked out its power supply. This crippled the reactors’ cooling systems, leading to core meltdowns in reactors 1 to 3. It is the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl in 1986.

 

February 18, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Mysterious and ‘HIGHLY UNUSUAL’ radioactive substance detected in Alaska

Feb 15, 2018
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SCIENTISTS have discovered an atmospheric aerosol particle enriched with uranium in Alaska which is used in nuclear fuel and bombs – and no-one can explain why the substance is there or how it arrived.
Experts from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said they have found a “highly unusual aerosol particle containing a very small amount of enriched uranium” .
The substance with the uranium-235 have been found for the first time in 20 years of searches, say experts.
This particle can fuel nuclear reactions, are used in nuclear power plants, can damage organic material and cause mutations that lead to cancer.
The scientists said: “The bulk of the particle probably came from combustion of heavy fuel oil.
“The particle was encountered when we were making no special attempt to sample radioactive material.
“We don’t know the source for this particle. It may indicate a novel source where enriched uranium was dispersed.”
They believe the particle could have come from across Asia and was brought to the spot by the winds.
The researchers say the the sample was “definitely not from a natural source” but could have come from burnt nuclear fuel.
The scientists made the findings when their research plane was flying over the Aleutian Islands in 2016 and detected the uranium floating about four miles above Alaska’s far-western island chain.
Leader of the study, Dan Murphy, said to Gizmodo: “It’s not a significant amount of radioactive debris by itself. “But it’s the implication that there’s some very small source of uranium that we don’t understand.
One of the main motivations of this paper is to see if somebody who knows more about uranium than any of us would understand the source of the particle.”
The full findings have been published in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity.
After the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011 in Japan, experts became concerned about radiation impacts in Alaska as three reactors melted down. However, as the particle was found in 2016, the two are unlikely to be linked.

February 18, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Photo collection shot inside Fukushima nuke plant to be released in March

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The building housing reactor No. 3 of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant still shows stark signs of the disaster in September 2016
 
Photographer Joe Nishizawa will offer a rare look inside the Fukushima nuclear plant damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster with the release this March of a photo book recording of decommissioning work over a 3 1/2-year period.
Published by Misuzu Shobo, “Decommissioning Fukushima: A Photographer’s Journey into the Depths of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant” will present roughly 150 photos of workers in protective gear and restorative efforts, arranged to show the passage of time. “I want to convey the scene exactly as it is,” the Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture-based photographer explains.
For the last 15 years, Nishizawa has taken photos of steel work factories, expressways and other construction scenes to cover Japan at various work sites. After the nuclear disaster occurred on March 11, 2011, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) released photos but they were blurred and difficult to make out. Nishizawa said he felt the need to document the state of the reactor for future generations. After negotiating with TEPCO, the photographer was granted access to the plant roughly once a month.
Wearing a mask and a protective suit covering his entire body, he first stepped foot on the grounds of the nuclear plant in July 2014. At the time, there was still debris on the premises scattered along the coastline and the destruction from the accident was still starkly evident. Once, a worker at whom he pointed his camera glared back and asked, “Just what are you photographing?”
Still, he continued to document the equipment used to purify water contaminated by radioactive materials, as well as the construction site filled with tanks of processed water. Along with the flow of time, Nishizawa also sensed the gradual progress of decommissioning efforts. Still, radiation levels around the reactor buildings are high, and the difficult labor conditions continue to this day.
“The decommissioning won’t end with this generation,” says Nishizawa. “We can’t afford to let the accident fade into the past, so I will continue taking photographs.”

February 18, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Japan to start nuclear cleanup of Fukushima town, Namie, around May

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In this July 27, 2017 file photo, contaminated water storage tanks are seen on the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant grounds, in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture.
 
TOKYO (Kyodo) — Nuclear decontamination work using state funds will begin around May in Namie, a town in northeastern Japan hit hard by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, to make some of its most-contaminated areas habitable again, the government said Thursday.
The government is seeking to lift an evacuation order for three areas in the town, covering about 660 hectares, by March 2023.
The order currently covers about 80 percent of Namie in Fukushima Prefecture, and the areas to be decontaminated make up some 3.7 percent of it where entry is prohibited in principle.
On Dec. 22, the government approved a plan submitted by the town to rebuild the areas affected by meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Similar rebuilding efforts have been underway in the neighboring town of Futaba since December and are also scheduled to begin in the town of Okuma in March.
For Namie, the first round of work covers some 30 hectares of land.
On March 11, 2011, a tsunami inundated the six-reactor plant located in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, and flooded the power supply facilities.
Reactor cooling systems were crippled and the Nos. 1 to 3 reactors suffered fuel meltdowns in the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

February 18, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

How did the Fukushima disaster affect air pollution?

February 14, 2018
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In March 2011, a post-earthquake tsunami triggered nuclear meltdowns, hydrogen-air explosions and the release of radioactive materials from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. The Fukushima disaster has been called the most significant nuclear incident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Professor Rodney C. Ewing, Frank Stanton Professor in Nuclear Security and co-director at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), as a member of a team of Japanese researchers, today published a report on the details of what exactly — at the particle level — was released into the air after the disaster.
In the discussion that follows, Ewing explains the team’s findings and why they are important for health and environmental safety.
Why did you decide to study the Fukushima disaster?
The Fukishima Daiichi event surprised me. I now teach a freshman seminar on this event. I am particularly interested to understand why the accident occurred and what the long-term impact will be on the environment. This research paper reflects my interest in answering these questions.
We’ve heard lots about possible health effects from contaminated water after the Fukushima disaster, but less about particulates in the air. What did you find?
During the core melt-down events at Fukushima Daiichi, radioactivity was released as fine particulates that traveled in the air, sometime for distances of tens of kilometers, and settled onto the surrounding countryside.
In order to understand the health risk, it is very important to understand the form and chemistry of these particulates.
Recently, in a previous paper we have described a new type of particulate that is Cs-rich (some Cs isotopes are highly radioactive). The highly radioactive Cs-rich particles formed in the reactor by condensation from a silica-rich vapor, formed from the melting of core and concrete structures. In this paper, we describe the first identification of fragments of the melted core that were entrapped by the Cs-particles and transported away from the reactor site, some 4 kilometers. This is an important discovery because this provides us with samples of the fuel and melted core.
This is a special contribution because it uses very advanced electron microscopy techniques that allow for imaging of individual atoms or clusters of atoms. This advanced technique is required because the particles are so small — nanometers in size.
How did you come to work with your collaborators in Japan?
I have had long standing collaborations with Japanese scientists for decades. The lead researcher for the group, Professor Satoshi Utusunomiya, was once a member of my research group when I was at the University of Michigan. We have always collaborated on topics that involve radioactive materials and the use of electron microscopy. This collaboration is an entirely natural outgrowth of previous collaborations.
What, if any, policy recommendations would you suggest based on your findings?
The most direct result would be to design monitoring systems so that we have a good record of released particulates. Also, we need to push the development of advanced analytical techniques so that these particulates can be quickly identified and characterized.

February 18, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan Ships First Seaweed, Farmed 6 Miles from Fukushima Meltdowns, for Human Consumption

February 14, 2018
 
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Fukushima Prefecture, Japan — On February 5, 2018, a mere seven years after a disastrous triple nuclear meltdown, Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture is once again harvesting and shipping green laver seaweed as a food product. An article in the Japan Times cited “officials” as having said the seaweed had radiation levels far below the safety limit. Local co-op members believe the seaweed is ready to be processed and eaten, but many consumers aren’t so sure.
“Matsukawaura green laver features a good scent,” Yuichi Okamura, a 62-year-old member of a local fishery cooperative told the Japan Times. “It’s as beautiful as before the disaster.”
Approximately 754 kilograms (1659 pounds) of the aqua farmed vegetation was shipped to local processors after being dried to remove pebbles and other objects. It is used primarily for ramen and soy sauce, and in the beginning will only be available locally. The test farming area is about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the Fukushima meltdown site.
As Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) attempts to decommission the nuclear plant, it has admitted that contaminated water seeping into the ground has caused problems. The Independent reported on February 2, 2018, “the energy firm found eight sieverts per hour of radiation, while 42 units were also detected outside its foundations.”
“Although the radiation levels identified are high, a threat to human health is very unlikely because apart from workers at the site, no one goes there,” Richard Black, Director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, told The Independent.
Not everyone agrees with Black’s assessment of the situation though. Independent energy consultant and lead author of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report Mycle Schneider, told The Independent he sees the possibility of a “global” disaster.
“This can get problematic anytime, if it contaminates the ocean there is no local contamination, the ocean is global, so anything that goes into the ocean goes to everyone,” said Schneider. “It needs to be clear that this problem is not gone, this is not just a local problem. It’s a very major thing.”
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Nori Seaweed
In February of 2017, TEPCO reported radiation levels at Fukushima’s Daiichi No. 1 power plant were the highest they had been able to record in the containment vessel of reactor no. 2 since the disaster. TEPCO explained the extraordinary measurement of 530 sieverts an hour came from a specialized robot that focused on one point and was able to get closer to the melted cores than ever before. The measurement dwarfed the previous high of 73 sieverts per hour. A single dose of one sievert would cause radiation sickness and nausea; a person exposed to one dose of 10 sieverts would be dead in a matter of weeks.
In spite of media reports to the contrary, no amount of exposure to ionizing radiation is safe. According to a National Research Council report released in 2005, any exposure could lead to cell damage and subsequent cancer. EnviroNews has repeatedly documented the danger of any radiation exposure and called out other media resources, which have repeated false assertions that low-level ionizing radiation is safe.

February 18, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

No Fukui evac plan needed for simultaneous nuclear accidents: Cabinet documents

 
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Government officials see no need to draft a new evacuation plan for the possibility of simultaneous nuclear accidents taking place at the Takahama (above) and Oi nuclear power plants in Fukui Prefecture.
 
FUKUI – The central government and the Fukui Prefectural Government have determined there is no need to craft a new evacuation plan in case of a twin nuclear accident there, Cabinet Office documents show.
In a meeting last month, state and prefectural officials confirmed that a simultaneous accidents at the Takahama and Oi nuclear power plants can be dealt with under the plants’ existing evacuation plans, which were compiled separately by each plant, said the documents, which were obtained Sunday.
The meeting involved officials from the Cabinet Office, the Fukui, Shiga and Kyoto prefectural governments, and Kansai Electric Power Co., which runs the atomic plants.
The consensus at the meeting was that simultaneous nuclear accidents can be dealt with under the existing plans because the evacuation sites don’t overlap, a Fukui prefectural official said.
The two nuclear plants are about 13.5 km apart. About 160,000 to 180,000 people live within 30 km from each of the plants.

February 18, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment