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

Nuke disaster plans : A long way from being ready

March 18, 2013


Many local gov'ts near nuke plants miss anti-disaster planning deadline: survey



Many local governments near nuclear power plants failed to complete nuclear disaster response plans by the central government-imposed March 18 deadline, according to a Mainichi survey.

The Mainichi queried 21 prefectures and 135 municipalities on the creation or revision of emergency measures for the 30-kilometer radius Urgent Protective Action Planning Zones (UPZ) around nuclear plants, and found that 13 prefectures and 59 municipalities had met the deadline. Nearly 20 local governments that failed to do so are expected to complete emergency planning by the end of March, and many others stated they expect to finish soon after.

Fifty-eight municipalities and 12 prefectures said they had secured evacuation facilities for UPZ residents. However, others with large populations -- including Ibaraki Prefecture, where about 940,000 people live in the UPZ around the Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant -- said sufficient facilities won't be secured for the foreseeable future -- a fact that has some calling for the central government to intervene directly.

While evacuation plans are supposed to be part of local governments' overall nuclear disaster countermeasures, only eight prefectures and 30 municipalities told the Mainichi they had completed both as of March 18. This is partly due to the number of local governments that already had disaster countermeasures of one kind or another ready, and are expected to revise them soon.

Regarding new and revised plans, other than the 13 prefectures stating they had met the March 18 deadline, Ibaraki, Ishikawa, Yamaguchi and Saga prefectures stated they would complete their planning by the end of March. All affected municipalities in four prefectures had finished their planning. Eight affected municipalities in Ishikawa Prefecture said they would put the finishing touches on their countermeasures once plans were set on the prefectural level, while 11 municipalities in Shizuoka Prefecture said they would be finished soon.

In Ibaraki Prefecture, which still has no place to put the hundreds of thousands of people in the Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant UPZ in the case of an accident, the prefectural nuclear safety division told the Mainichi, "We'd like to see the central government take regional conditions into account and come up with a more flexible plan."

All the affected municipalities in Shizuoka Prefecture also stated they did not have evacuation facilities ready.

Among the prefectures that have completed countermeasure planning, Shimane Prefecture said neighboring Hiroshima and Okayama prefectures have agreed to accept disaster refugees if necessary.

Fukushima Prefecture, meanwhile, currently maintains evacuation facilities with a capacity of some 450,000 people, or the total populations of the 13 municipalities hit by the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) expanded Japan's UPZ in October last year, from the previous 8-10 kilometer radius to the current 30. The change meant a significant increase in the number of municipalities covered by nuclear disaster countermeasures from the previous 15 prefectures and 45 municipalities, requiring new planning. Their efforts have been hampered, however, by the late release of new central government nuclear disaster guidelines.

The government, meanwhile, has decided to create legal requirements for disaster evacuation sites, including stocking supplies and setting up support facilities for evacuees, under revisions to the Basic Act on Disaster Control Measures.

Only 29 local govts have N-evacuation plans

Only 29 out of the 156 local governments that were required by the government to compile antidisaster plans in preparation for nuclear emergencies have decided on concrete evacuation procedures and sites, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey.

After the outbreak of the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the government issued guidelines requiring 156 local governments within 30 kilometers of a nuclear power plant to compile antidisaster plans to prepare for a nuclear accident.

However, while such governments have made efforts to devise evacuation measures, many are finding it hard to coordinate with neighboring municipalities and secure suitable sites, particularly those with higher populations.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority asked the governments of 21 prefectures and 135 municipalities to compile their antidisaster measures by Monday.

The Yomiuri Shimbun asked officials in the 156 local governments whether they would meet Monday's deadline for compiling their respective plans, with 74 saying they would.

Under the Disaster Countermeasures Basic Law, among others, local governments are required to compile their own disaster management plans.

Based on government-set guidelines to deal with nuclear emergencies, the plans must include medical care measures to treat people exposed to radiation, a system to monitor radiation, as well as evacuation sites and transportation methods for evacuees.

Asked when they were likely to finish their respective plans, 17 governments said during March, while 29 said "sometime in the first half of fiscal 2013."

In total, 120 local governments, or about 80 percent of those subject to the requirement, expect the plans to be ready by autumn.

Seven local governments said their plans would be ready sometime in the second half of fiscal 2013.

Asked about reasons for the delay in drawing up evacuation measures, 53 of the 127 local governments said they needed more time to coordinate views with neighboring municipalities. Another 50 said they were having difficulty determining evacuation sites and means of evacuation for residents. Multiple answers were allowed.

Forty-nine governments pointed out the NRA's delay in drawing up its guidelines.

(Mar. 18, 2013)




March 17, 2013

Disaster preparedness plans unfinished



Some local governments in Japan with nuclear plants in their jurisdiction will likely miss Monday's deadline for reviewing their disaster control plans.

Other municipalities have already finished the process but have yet to draw up concrete evacuation plans.

In light of the 2011 nuclear crisis, the Nuclear Regulation Authority ordered municipalities within a 30-kilometer radius of a nuclear power plant to review their disaster control measures based on new sets of guidelines.

These call for evacuation areas around nuclear plants to be expanded from the current 10 kilometers to 30. They also require evacuation or stay-at-home orders to be issued based on radiation dosage.

An NHK survey shows only 46 percent of local governments said they will be able to finish reviewing their disaster control plans to meet the deadline.

Some municipalities say the central government was too late in revising the guidelines and providing explanations necessary for them to review their community-based plans.

Others say they haven't decided where to evacuate residents, or don't have the means to evacuate a large number of people.

Mar. 17, 2013 - Updated 20:49 UTC (05:49 JST)


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