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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 November 13 - 19  > NRA safety screening should not screen out residents’ safety concerns
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2019 November 13 - 19 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

NRA safety screening should not screen out residents’ safety concerns

November 14, 2019

Akahata ‘current’ column

The Nuclear Regulation Authority on November 13 reported in the progress in its safety screening of idled nuclear power plants. The facilities must be confirmed by the NRA as meeting its new safety standards before resuming operations. This year, the NRA has not passed any reactors in the screening process.

According to the NRA report, concerning the Tomari NPP in Hokkaido Prefecture, the independent regulatory body in February this year acknowledged that it cannot rule out the possibility that faults running beneath the plant site are active. In response, the plant operator, Hokkaido Electric Power Company, carried out additional geological surveys and the NRA is now reviewing the survey results. Regarding the No.2 reactor at the Japan Atomic Power Company’s Tsuruga NPP in Fukui Prefecture, the NRA has just started examining the issue of alleged active faults running right under the reactor. The report pointed out that more than 1,000 errors were found in the Japan Atomic Power Company’s materials submitted to the NRA.

According to the report, among reactors currently undergoing the safety screening process, the No.2 reactor at the Onagawa NPP in Miyagi Prefecture is about to receive the green light from the NRA to restart its operation. As the Onagawa NPP was hit by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and its aftershocks, many cracks were found in the reactor building, which prolonged the NRA’s examination of the NPP’s earthquake-resistance ability.

A group of residents living near the Onagawa NPP recently filed for a court injunction in a bid to prevent the Miyagi Prefectural and Ishinomaki City governments from giving consent to the reactivation of the idled reactor at the NPP. The residents claim that the evacuation plan in the event of nuclear emergency at the Onagawa NPP contains many flaws and is unworkable. As an example, they cited that the evacuation plan does not take into account the possibility of serious traffic jams on evacuation routes, ignores the risk of multiple disasters, and lacks support measures for hospital patients and mobility-impaired persons.

Safety is of paramount importance in NPPs and a nuclear disaster must be prevented at any cost. This was confirmed also in a 1992 Supreme Court decision. Yet, the NRA in its safety screening process does not assess the feasibility of evacuation plans regarding the Onagawa NPP and stays on course to restart idled reactors.

Past related articles:
> More than 110,000 Miyagi voters seek local vote on Onagawa NPP [December 13, 2018]
> NRA okays use of damaged and decrepit Tokai Daini NPP [July 5, 2018]
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