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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 May 24 - 30  > NRA OKs plan to reactivate Oi NPP in defiance of public concern over safety
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2017 May 24 - 30 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

NRA OKs plan to reactivate Oi NPP in defiance of public concern over safety

May 25, 2017
The Nuclear Regulation Authority on May 24 approved an application for the reactivation of two reactors at the Oi Nuclear Power Plant (Fukui Prefecture) in defiance of experts and citizens expressing concern over insufficient emergency preparedness.

Kansai Electric Power Company seeks to resume operations of the Oi NPP by the end of this year. Under the current nuclear safety standards, the utility made applications for restarting a total of seven reactors at its three NPPs and all of the applications were approved.

University of Tokyo Professor Emeritus Shimazaki Kunihiko, who is a former NRA acting chair, pointed out on various occasions that KEPCO most likely underestimated the maximum expected seismic vibration at the Oi NPP. The famed seismologist stressed that as the plant operator used inappropriate methods in calculating the estimate for the maximum magnitude of an earthquake in the vicinity, the utility’s application should not be approved. However, the NRA disregarded Shimazaki’s warning.

In addition, problems in regard to the evacuation plans in case of a nuclear accident at the Oi NPP have faced public criticism. The two reactors in question are located in the Wakasa Bay area along with 13 other reactors. However, the NRA failed to take into account a possibility that a massive earthquake may trigger accidents at two or more of the 15 reactors simultaneously.

Residents living near the NPP fear that they will have difficulties in evacuating in the event of a nuclear accident due to lack of comprehensive preparedness. A 30-km radius of the Oi NPP covers three prefectures and evacuees will have to cross prefectural borders. If the accident involves multiple reactors, it will bring about an even more chaotic situation.

The Fukui District Court in May 2014 acknowledged that the Oi NPP’s quake-proofing measures are insufficient and ordered KEPCO to keep the Nos 3 and 4 reactors at the NPP offline. The company appealed the ruling to a higher court. As the ruling is not yet finalized, it does not stop the utility from restarting the NPP.

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