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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

400,000 years ago

January 16, 2013


Nuclear Regulation Authority to broaden definition of active faults



The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) is set to drastically broaden the definition of active faults to cover those that moved 400,000 years ago or later in its new nuclear plant safety standards, according to a draft outline.

Under current standards, those that moved from 120,000 to 130,000 years ago or later are recognized as such in its atomic power plant safety standards.

The nuclear plant regulator will finalize the outline by the end of this month and draw up the new standards on nuclear plants' vulnerability to earthquakes and tsunami by July.

The draft, worked out by an NRA expert team, states that faults that repeatedly moved in recent years and have a possibility of moving in the future should be regarded as active faults when designing nuclear reactors' quake-resistance. It then says "the activity of faults as early as approximately 400,000 years ago should be assessed."

This is in line with the definition that the government's Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion made in 2010 that faults that moved approximately 400,000 years ago or later are active faults.

The guidelines for seismic-resistance designing of nuclear plants that the government compiled in 2006 recognizes faults that moved 120,000 to 130,000 years ago or later as active.

However, there have since been several cases in which experts cannot specify when faults on the premises of nuclear power stations moved, prolonging assessments.

JRA Commissioner Kunihiko Shimazaki points to the need to change the definition of active faults in nuclear plants' quake-resistance design. "In some cases, assessing whether faults on the premises of nuclear plants are active have been prolonged. Pointless discussions will disappear if the definition is reviewed."

The government does not permit the construction of nuclear reactor buildings just above active faults.

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