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Situation at Tsuruga not so obvious


December 6, 2012


Tsuruga nuke plant's reactivation faces further obstacles



The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) chief has suggested the possibility that the reactivation of the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the Tsuruga nuclear power plant could be disapproved even though the reactors do not sit directly above an active fault.

"It's not that nuclear reactors can be reactivated because an active fault is not running directly beneath reactor buildings. Under special circumstances, the way such faults should be assessed needs to be reviewed," NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said during a press conference on Dec. 5.

Tanaka apparently put weight on the fact that an active fault line called the "Urazoko fault" runs underneath the premises of the Tsuruga plant in Fukui Prefecture, which is operated by the Japan Atomic Power Co., when he suggested that a decision over whether to reactivate the reactors could be made regardless of conventional standards.

The central government has heretofore not approved construction of such key facilities as reactor buildings right above active faults. However, the government has approved the operation of reactors situated away from active faults after assessing their seismic resistance and determining their safety.

The NRA dispatched a team of experts to the Tsuruga plant on Dec. 1 and 2 to conduct field surveys. The authority is now looking into the possibility of whether the crush zone running right underneath the building housing the No. 2 reactor could move in conjunction with the Urazoko fault, which lies some 200 meters away from the reactor. The NRA will decide whether to allow the plant's reactivation following a meeting scheduled for Dec. 11.

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