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Nuclear Crisis
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Fukui’s 15 reactors are on active faults, with 8 over 30 yrs. old

June 23,2011
Fukui has the largest number of nuclear reactors among all prefectures. The 15 nuclear reactors, including the plutonium-fueled fast breeder reactor “Monju”, are all located in on an active fault zone. Two of them have been used for 40 years, one for 39, and five for more than 30 years.

One aging reactor, Mihama Nuclear Power Plant Unit 3, in 2001 already caused a pipe-rupture accident, resulting in five deaths out of the 11 subcontract workers who were nearby.

Tsubota Kanaya who has long called for appropriate safety measures at NPPs in the area said with concern, “The reactor pipe walls were eroded to one millimeter from the original one centimeter in the 35 years of use. The age of the pipe as well as a flaw in the maintenance of Unit 3 led to the fatal accident. Needless to say, anything could happen at Unit 1 and 2 at any time.”

On the Tsuruga Peninsula, the Tsuruga NPP operated by Japan Atomic Power Co., the fast breeder reactor “Monju” operated by the Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Agency, and the Mihama NPP operated by Kansai Electric Power Co. are all located within a one-kilometer zone from active faults. As for the Tsuruga plant, it has an active fault right beneath its site.

The closer an active fault is, the more change in landform may occur, influenced by earthquakes, ground uplift, or ground cracks. Local residents are worried about the impact of these risks. A 55-year-old man said, “With the occurrence of Fukushima accident, I can’t help being scared by the existence of the nuclear power stations here.” Another resident said, “If something happens, the only thing I’ll be able to do is pray.”

The assembly of Obama City, where nuclear reactors are concentrated, on June 9 adopted a unanimous resolution demanding that the government set a timetable to break away from nuclear power generation, shift its energy policy to one utilizing alternative sources of energy, and decommission reactors that are over 30 years old.

At present, operations at seven reactors in the prefecture are under suspension for inspection or due to an accident (Tsuruga NPP Unit 2). Fukui Governor Nishikawa Issei has announced that he will not approve the resumption of their operations.

Experts point out that the Tsuruga NPP is the second most dangerous after the Hamaoka NPP in Shizuoka Prefecture. However, the Tsuruga plant operator and Tsuguga City authorities are insisting, “A major earthquake will not occur in this region.” They have failed to learn any lessons from the Fukushima crisis.

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