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April 17, 2012
Hamaoka nuclear plant 'safe' against big tsunami, operator tells gov't



NAGOYA (Kyodo) -- Chubu Electric Power Co. reported to the government Monday that its Hamaoka nuclear power plant would be safe even if it were hit by a 21-meter-high tsunami after a massive earthquake.

The operator compiled its report on the assumption that the plant could be flooded by such high waves hitting the Pacific coast in Shizuoka Prefecture, central Japan, while it is still offline and the reactors are kept cool.

But in the report it submitted to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the utility did not mention whether the plant could survive such a huge tsunami if it is in operation.

The agency had ordered the utility to file the report by Monday based on a new projection by the Cabinet Office's expert panel anticipating a tsunami of up to 21 meters near the Hamaoka plant in the event that a huge quake occurred in the "Nankai Trough" in the seabed off central and western Japan.

Chubu Electric said in the report it would be able to resume water supply to the plant's cooling system for reactors and spent fuel pools even if the cooling functions are lost in the wake of a huge tsunami, by using equipment including mobile pumps located at a higher place in the plant.

It would take at least six days before the water in a reactor's core fell below the fuel level even if the cooling system broke down, the report said.

The Hamaoka plant in the city of Omaezaki has been suspended since last May after the government asked the operator to halt it following the Fukushima Daiichi plant's crisis triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, based on a prediction that a magnitude-8 quake could hit the region sometime in the first half of this century.

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