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3600 working in Nuclear power plants in Japan – concerns raised over coronavirus

N-reactor inspection cannot abide by physical distancing rules, causing coronavirus fear in locals, April 29 & May 3, 2020

The No.3 reactor at Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO)’s Oi nuclear power plant (Oi Town, Fukui Pref.) will soon undergo its regular inspection. During this overhaul, about 900 utility workers will come from other prefectures amid a nationwide voluntary ban on leaving home in the fight against COVID-19.
Local citizens are concerned that this will run counter to the government instructions to refrain from crossing prefectural borders and to avoid the “three Cs”- closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places, close-contact settings.

Seven civil organizations in Fukui on April 28 jointly demanded that KEPCO suspend operations of reactors at all NPPs in the prefecture and cancel all work to bring offline reactors back online or decommission them in order to prevent the coronavirus from spreading further.

According to KEPCO, the number of workers will increase by about 1,800 to check on the No.3 reactor at the Oi NPP. Of them, about 900 will come from outside Fukui. At the Oi NPP, the Nos.1 and 2 reactors are currently under the process of decommissioning with about 1,800 workers working daily. Thus, the number of workers in three reactors combined will reach 3,600.

Japanese Communist Party member of the Oi Town Assembly, Saruhashi Takumi pointed out, “The reactor buildings are hermetically closed. Many workers work close together in a confined space. So, the ‘three Cs are unavoidable, but our town has a limited number of hospital beds to treat patients with coronavirus infection. If a mass infection occurs, medical facilities in the town will soon be overwhelmed.”

JCP member of the Fukui Prefectural Assembly Sato Masao criticized KEPCO by saying, “The utility places priority on the resumption of operations of reactors at its NPPs over preventive measures against the coronavirus.”

Apart from the Oi NPP, KEPCO has the Takahama NPP and the Mihama NPP in Fukui Prefecture, and about 4,500 workers and 3,000 workers work at those plants every day, respectively.

* * *

KEPCO postpones regular inspection of No.3 reactor

KEOCO on May 2 announced that it will postpone a regular inspection of the No.3 reactor at its Oi NPP for a few months.

Fearing a possible increase of coronavirus infections caused by the inflow of many workers from outside Fukui Prefecture, local residents successfully pressed the power company to delay the inspection which was planned to start on May 8.

May 18, 2020 - Posted by | health, Japan, safety

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