The Japan Times ran a very disturbing story today. As they were covering the protests at Oi over the weekend they looked at the ability to evacuate the population around Oi in the event of an accident. We have pointed out in our analysis of the safety at Oi that there is one road to the plant that sits on a peninsula. Protesters took advantage of this flaw and were able to blockade all entry into or out of the plant with a few vehicles and some log chain.
The terrain and natural conditions in that area of Fukui make most travel challenging.
” Based on a simulation it ran last week of what would happen if people panicked and fled by car, Fukui Prefecture estimates it could take over eight hours to reach major cities like Tsuruga..”
“In a series of public service videos on Oi’s website, produced in cooperation with Kansai Electric, an official asks that residents go to evacuation centers instead of flocking to the roads. Oi officials explain there are evacuation plans for those living within a 3-km radius of the plants. The plans assume the wind is blowing to the east when the accident occurs, and that those who live up to 7 km due east of the reactors will remain indoors.”
“One train line runs along the coast between Wakasa Hongo and Tsuruga, to the northeast, and Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture, to the west. Trains are infrequent and are often canceled due to heavy rains, high winds or blizzard conditions. Normally, it’s about 30 minutes to Higashi Maizuru Station, where there are express trains to Kyoto and Osaka, and about an hour and 20 minutes to Tsuruga, where evacuees can take express trains to Kyoto or Nagoya, or board a ship.”
“If the trains stop, or panic ensues, people will take to the roads. Route 27, the road closest to the Oi reactors, runs along the coast and is mostly two-lane, with frequent traffic lights.”
The weather and terrain are challenging. The area is not readily serviced by large transit options. The two lane road off the peninsula also sits at a low elevation facing the bay for a long distance putting the road at risk for even being usable. People within 7km being asked to hide in their homes is not an evacuation policy. Before venting at Fukushima Daiichi people were eventually evacuated out to the 10km zone.
The tsunami risk is also being found to be much higher than initially admitted. New evidence is showing that the Sea of Japan side of Japan is just as prone to major tsunami as the Pacific side is. This changes many risk factors for the nuclear plants on the west side of Japan.
These new assumptions are based off of findings in Hokkaido that show 35 meter tsunami are possible on the west side, NHK has details.
We outlined many of these ignored risks at Oi nuclear plant here. The lack of a functional evacuation plan again highlights the neglect of public safety as factions in Japan push to restart reactors.
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