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Safety plans at Hamaoka insufficient

May 14, 2014

Cities near Hamaoka nuclear plant cite insufficient safety plans as gov't seeks restart



The mayors of all 11 municipalities in the Urgent Protective Action Planning Zone (UPZ) around the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant in Shizuoka Prefecture, say that the plant would not qualify for restart even if the prefecture develops a regional evacuation plan as sought by the national government, a Mainichi Shimbun survey has revealed.

Chubu Electric Power Co. has applied to the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) for safety inspections with the goal of restarting the Hamaoka plant in the city of Omaezaki. The plant has been offline for exactly three years as of May 14.

Due to nearby residents' safety concerns, the power company entered into a safety agreement with the four cities that lie within 10 kilometers of the plant, while the additional seven locales that lie within the UPZ's 30-kilometer radius are in the process of finalizing a similar accord.

All 11 municipalities are unanimous, however, in their unequivocal view that the national government's safety measures with respect to the plant remain inadequate.

The Mainichi Shimbun survey asked whether or not the safety standards would qualify for restarting the plant, in response to which the six municipalities of Makinohara, Kikugawa, Iwata, Yaizu, Shimada and Yoshida replied "no," while the five locales of Omaezaki, Kakegawa, Fukuroi, Fujieda and Mori responded "other." None of the cities queried answered "yes."

"The location (of the nuclear plant) is unacceptable," commented Makinohara Mayor Shigeki Nishihara, who has been against its restart from the beginning.

Meanwhile, Omaezaki Mayor Shigeo Ishihara, who has shown consistent understanding of Chubu Electric's safety measures, commented, "Just because you have designed (such measures) does not mean it is alright to go ahead with the restart."

Even though the procedure for restarting the plant may be proceeding smoothly, the danger of its location remains -- as does the feeling of unease among nearly all local residents.

Last month, as part of safety planning measures, the Shizuoka Prefectural Government simulated an automobile evacuation of the approximately 860,000 residents living within the UPZ. The exercise -- while revealing the necessity for traffic regulations -- was described by only four cities in the survey as having been helpful.

Iwata Mayor Osamu Watanabe was critical of the simulation, commenting, "The exercise was based upon mere bureaucratic calculations, and completely downplayed the psychological factors among residents, such as panic."

Chubu Electric applied for safety inspections of the Hamaoka plant's No. 4 reactor in February this year. At this time, only the four cities located within the 10-kilometer radius of the plant that had already entered into a safety agreement with the power company were privy to a detailed explanation of what was occurring.

The other seven municipalities accused the utility of "giving insufficient information," and in March they began pressing the company to include them in the safety agreement. Concrete discussions on a safety deal began in April.


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