Home > Japan, News > Hamaoka plant sits in Tokai quake focal zone +Related News

Hamaoka plant sits in Tokai quake focal zone +Related News

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Laaska News May 7,2011

The Hamaoka nuclear power plant is located above the projected focus of a magnitude-8-class earthquake that could strike Shizuoka Prefecture.

Seismologists have long been warning that the likely Tokai earthquake could occur any time.

They say massive earthquakes have hit the region every 100 to 150 years, but no major quake has occurred there since the one that struck in the 19th century.

The government predicts that the focus would stretch inland from the southern edge of Yamanashi Prefecture to the central and western parts of Shizuoka Prefecture, and to the prefecture’s Pacific coastal area as well.

All areas in Shizuoka would feel a jolt with an intensity of 6-minus to the maximum 7 on the Japanese scale of 0 to 7.

It also projects that a major tsunami of more than 5 meters will strike the coastal area and in some places, the waves could top 10 meters.

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Kan calls for halt of Hamaoka nuclear plant

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has asked a utility firm in central Japan to halt operations of all active reactors at the Hamaoka nuclear power plant, due to the risk of earthquakes.

Kan told a hastily arranged news conference on Friday evening that he made the decision in the wake of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The prime minister said he asked Chubu Electric Power Company that operates the Hamaoka plant to halt reactors No.4 and No.5, and not to restart reactor No.3, which is now offline for regular inspections.

The plant in Shizuoka Prefecture has 5 reactors, but units No.1 and 2 are permanently shut down for decommissioning.

The Hamaoka complex is known to sit directly above the projected focus of the Tokai Earthquake that experts have long warned of.

Kan said that a science ministry panel on earthquake research has projected an 87-percent possibility of a magnitude-8-class earthquake hitting the region within 30 years.

He said that considering the unique location of the Hamaoka plant, the operator must draw up and implement mid-to-long-term plans to ensure the reactors can withstand the projected Tokai Earthquake. Kan also said that until such plans are implemented, all the reactors should remain out of operation.

Chubu Electric has declined to respond immediately to the prime minister’s request. But Kan said he will try hard to win the company’s understanding.

The prime minister added that his government will do its utmost to ensure the stoppage of the reactors does not seriously affect power supplies in Chubu Electric’s service areas.

Kan said that although power shortages might occur when demand surges in the summer, he is confident that with the cooperation and understanding of the public, the nation can overcome such difficulties.

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Kan: Safety plans must be implemented

Prime Minister Kan says in requesting the shutdown of the Hamaoka plant, he considered the impact a serious accident there would have on the country and its people.

Kan said the plant operator needs to draw up and implement medium- to long-term plans to ensure the reactors can withstand the projected Tokai Earthquake.

He said that until the power company’s long-term contingency plans are in place, all active reactors at the complex should be stopped, for the sake of public safety.

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Govt panel was preparing to warn of major tsunami

A Japanese panel of seismologists knew about the risk of a major tsunami in northeastern Japan before disaster struck on March 11th. The group had put together a report in February and was planning to release it in April.

NHK obtained a copy of the report drawn up by the government’s Earthquake Research Committee. It focuses on quakes and tsunamis off the Pacific coastline of northeastern Japan.

The document includes the committee’s analysis of an earthquake that is known to have struck the region more than 1,140 years ago.

Citing recent studies, the report estimates that the ancient earthquake was caused when 3 sections of the seabed shifted simultaneously.

It says the quake probably measured around Magnitude 8.3, triggering enormous tsunamis that flooded vast areas of Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures.

The report concludes that the region should be alerted of the risk of a similar disaster striking again.

The March 11th earthquake measured Magnitude 9.0 and involved the shifting of multiple sections of seabed. Tsunami waves devastated wide areas of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures.

One of the experts involved in the study says he regrets the committee’s failure to warn of the risk as soon as it was discovered — no matter how low the probability was.

Associate Professor Yoshinobu Tsuji at the University of Tokyo’s Earthquake Research Institute says the committee needs to further review past disasters to reassess future risks.

NHK.

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