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

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

Shikoku Electric restarts reactor under post-Fukushima regulations

Ikata nuclear power plant in Ehime Prefecture, is restarted.

After the Tepco Fukushima Daiichi earthquake/tsunami disaster and the Kumamoto recent earthquake, it is to be wondered what Japan has learned?

The Ikata nuclear power plant is located on the Hinagu fault zone and Futagawa fault zone, themselves extension of Japan’s largest active fault “Median Tectonic Line”.

In case of any accident, for the residents living on Sadamisaki Peninsula evacuation would be only possible by boat to Kyushu Island, such evacuation would be therefore difficult, even impossible.

Unless there would be a Japanese Moses to open the sea, such evacuation plan should be referred to as an escape from reality.

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The Ikata Nuclear Power Plant in Ikata, Ehime Prefecture

MATSUYAMA, Japan (Kyodo) — Shikoku Electric Power Co. restarted a reactor at its Ikata power plant in western Japan on Friday, making it the fifth unit reactivated under tougher regulations set following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The No. 3 reactor at the plant in Ehime Prefecture is the only restarted unit in Japan that runs on uranium-plutonium mixed oxide, or MOX, fuel, as a court ordered Kansai Electric Power Co. in March to suspend two reactors at its Takahama plant after they resumed operations earlier this year, citing safety concerns.

MOX fuel, created from plutonium and uranium extracted from spent fuel, is a key component of the nuclear fuel recycle program pursued by the nuclear power industry and the government.

The government aims to bring reactors back online after the Fukushima crisis led to a nationwide halt of nuclear plants, as it plans to have nuclear power account for 20 to 22 percent of the country’s total electricity supply in 2030 to cut greenhouse emissions and lower imported fuel costs.

The Ikata unit is expected to reach criticality, or a state of sustained nuclear chain reaction, on Saturday and begin generating and transmitting electricity on Monday before resuming commercial operation in early September for the first time since it was halted in April 2011 for regular inspection.

“We will take steps toward criticality and resumption of power generation with priority on ensuring safety,” Shikoku Electric President Hayato Saeki said in a statement on Friday.

Meanwhile, around 70 residents and others opposing the reactor restart gathered around the seaside plant early Friday morning, chanting slogans such as “Don’t contaminate the Seto Inland Sea,” and “Stop the nuclear plant.”

Junko Saima, a 72-year-old woman from Yawatahama, adjacent to the town hosting the plant, which is located on one side of a narrow peninsula, said, “I am nervous that some kind of accident may occur.”

Opponents are concerned about the effectiveness of government-prepared evacuation plans in case of an accident and about potential major earthquakes that are not taken into account in the plans, while proponents are hailing the resumption as it could bring economic benefits.

The restart follows the reactivation of two reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture last year and the brief run of the Nos. 3 and 4 units at Kansai Electric’s Takahama complex in Fukui Prefecture.

The mayor of Ikata town and the governor of Ehime Prefecture have already given their consent to restart the No.3 reactor after regulators approved its restart in July last year.

In June, Shikoku Electric loaded nuclear fuel at the power plant eyeing to reboot it on July 26. However, reactivation was postponed due to problems with the reactor’s cooling system.

A group of local residents filed a suit in May seeking an injunction to halt the restart arguing that a series of earthquakes that have hit nearby Kyushu Island in April could trigger quakes along the median tectonic line running close to the Ikata reactor.

The plant is about 170 kilometers east of Kumamoto Prefecture, the epicenter of the quakes.

Meanwhile, in Kagoshima, new Gov. Satoshi Mitazono is planning to ask Kyushu Electric to suspend the two reactivated reactors at the Sendai plant to double-check any safety impact on the units from the powerful earthquakes that hit neighboring Kumamoto in April.

August 12, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , , | Leave a comment

Far-reaching quakes put Ehime’s atomic evacuation plans in doubt


Protesters rally against the restart of the Ikata nuclear power plant in the town of Ikata, Ehime Prefecture, on July 24

MATSUYAMA, EHIME PREF. – When two earthquakes of magnitude 6.5 and 7.3 struck Kumamoto Prefecture in April, the shock was felt not only in Kumamoto but also about 170 km away, in the small town of Ikata, Ehime Prefecture, home to a nuclear power plant.

For years, residents had been told that the Median Tectonic Line, which runs from Kyushu to Honshu and passes just 5 km away from the Ikata plant, was not active and that there was nothing to worry about. After the April quakes, no abnormal atomic activity was reported, but residents are now worried a large quake in the area, followed by tsunami, could not only damage the plant but also make evacuation from the peninsula Ikata lies on impossible.

The restart of Ikata reactor 3, slated for Aug. 12, has put those concerns in sharp focus and raised questions about just how realistic evacuation will be in the event of a natural disaster — especially an earthquake that sends a tsunami churning toward the nearly 124,000 residents living within 30 km of the plant.

The official evacuation plans assume emergency vehicles will have a certain degree of access to the low-lying roads on the peninsula, which are often only a few meters above sea level. But what happens if the roads are flooded by tsunami or damaged beyond use due to landslides? There are about 5,000 people on the peninsula living on the western side of the Ikata plant who might be cut off from escaping by land to the designated evacuation areas lying east of the plant,” said Tsukasa Wada, an Matsuyama-based antinuclear activist who is fighting to keep the Ikata plant closed.

In granting permission last year to restart Ikata’s No. 3 unit, Ehime Gov. Tokihiro Nakamura dismissed such concerns, saying the rock formations around the plant are strong. But the prefecture has designated 194 areas in the town of Ikata as highly susceptible to landslides.

To get to the Ikata plant from Matsuyama by car or bus also involves passing through a series of tunnels. Tunnel construction experts have testified in past lawsuits involving the plant that many of the tunnels are weak, suggesting that an earthquake could cause cave-ins, rendering them unusable.

The central government and the prefecture are aware that land evacuations alone could prove impossible. So the official plans also include evacuations by air and, most controversially, by sea. The plans assume there is time to evacuate by sea before radiation from the plant spreads, and that ships can dock at nearby ports even if the peninsula’s main access road has been destroyed by a quake, tsunami, or both.

The April quakes in Kumamoto led to fears in neighboring Kagoshima Prefecture about running the two reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai plant. That helped fuel the election last month of Gov. Satoshi Mitazono, who is against nuclear power and has said he’ll try to shut down the two Sendai reactors.

But in late July, Ehime Gov. Nakamura insisted that, despite the results in Kagoshima and growing concerns in Ehime, where an opinion poll by the daily Ehime Shimbun in July found 54 percent of respondents opposed to the restart, he had no intention of canceling or postponing it to revisit the issues of the plant’s safety or the evacuation plans.

The conditions are different in each of the different areas where nuclear power plants are located, as is the age of the reactors in each area and their structure. You can’t compare them. In particular, for the process leading up to restarts, the approach and system is different for each area, with different plans for evacuation,” Nakamura told reporters at a regular press briefing.

But even a Shikoku Electric Power Co. survey in late May and early June of nearly 28,000 households lying within 20 km of the Ikata plant showed that, compared with a similar survey last year, more people were skeptical of safety assurances and fewer were convinced of the need for nuclear power. Shikoku Electric admits that the Kumamoto earthquakes probably influenced this year’s results.


August 6, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear disaster evacuation plans worry many local authorities


Workers clean up a bus that transported evacuees in a nuclear disaster evacuation drill in Shizuoka in February.

Nearly half of local governments polled are concerned about the recommendation that residents living within 5 to 30 kilometers of a nuclear power plant should “evacuate” by staying indoors if a serious accident occurs, an Asahi Shimbun survey found.

The survey also showed that a quarter of local governments want a review of the central government’s evacuation guidelines, which were set in October 2012 following the Fukushima nuclear disaster the previous year.

It was taken to find how local governments hosting a nuclear facility or located in the vicinity of a nuclear plant view the guidelines in light of the recent series of earthquakes in Kumamoto Prefecture.

In the quakes that began in mid-April, a large number of homes, as well as roads and other structures, were damaged. Continuing aftershocks added to difficulties in victims’ abilities to evacuate quickly.

The nuclear disaster evacuation guidelines were compiled on the assumption of a serious accident occurring at a nuclear complex, but do not take into account the destruction of evacuation routes, bridges and other buildings in the surrounding area, caused by a powerful earthquake, for example.

Shiga Prefecture, which called for a review of the guidelines in May, said: “Indoor evacuation would be unrealistic if a nuclear accident were coupled with an earthquake. Evacuation to the area beyond 30 km should be considered.”

Under the current setup, people living within a 5-km radius are ordered to evacuate immediately.

Those within a radius of 5 to 30 km are advised in principle to stay indoors initially and evacuate in stages, depending on the amount of radiation released into their neighborhoods.

Indoor evacuation” for such a zone is aimed at allowing the smooth evacuation of people in the 5-km zone first to avoid an expected gridlock.

But many local governments are wary of the central government’s recommendations, citing the possibility of a complex disaster involving more than just a nuclear accident, according to the survey.

The survey, conducted in mid-June and mid-July, covered 21 prefectural governments and 135 municipalities that fall within the 5-30 km radius. All the local governments responded but one, the Fukui prefectural government.

Of the total of 155, The Asahi Shimbun analyzed the responses of 151, as the remaining four municipalities replied that they will evacuate immediately. Most of these municipalities’ jurisdictions are also situated within the 5 km radius.

The survey showed that 71 local governments, including Niigata and Ibaraki prefectures, expressed concerns about the guidelines, while 22 replied that they are not.

Asked to choose one or more reasons for their anxiety, 56 cited the response to a situation where a large number of structures are destroyed.

As for the need to review the guidelines, 37 respondents, including Nagasaki and Shizuoka prefectures, agreed while 13 did not. Sixty-four said they don’t know.

According to the survey, 12 local governments replied that they are well prepared with regard to the infrastructure that enables smooth evacuation, whereas 69 cited problems with that issue.

How to evacuate in a nuclear accident that could be triggered by a devastating earthquake or another disaster that destroys homes and infrastructure has emerged as a pressing issue since the Kumamoto temblors.

Kagoshima’s new governor, Satoshi Mitazono, was elected in July on his campaign pledge to review the existing evacuation plan in connection with a hypothetical accident at the Sendai nuclear power plant.

The nuclear power station in Satsuma-Sendai in the prefecture is the only plant online in the nation and is situated relatively close to an active fault that is believed to have slipped in the Kumamoto quakes.

Despite growing concerns voiced by local governments, the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s secretariat, which compiled the guidelines, said in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun that it will not consider a review.

Indoor evacuation will not be for a prolonged period,” said an official. “Gyms and other public facilities would be available for residents even if their homes were destroyed.”

The official also said local governments can improve their evacuation plans based on their understanding of local conditions.

August 3, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment