The NRA has issued a number of improvements for evacuation planning in the event of a nuclear disaster. They have said that more radiation monitoring posts need to be installed, there should be one in each town. They will also require each monitoring station to have a back up generator in case of a power outage. A mandatory evacuation of anyone within 5km of the plant was added along with monitoring out 30km before considering more evacuations. Right now there is no solution in place to install more monitoring posts or supply people to go take readings where no monitoring posts exist.
This issue where the central government is not taking specific action and funding has very real world implications in the Kansai region. A concerning lack of monitoring stations was brought up again after a recent disaster drill in Kyoto. The region houses a large number of nuclear power plants in Fukui along the coastline.
The combination of difficult terrain, limited roads and major cities like Kyoto and Osaka in the path of nuclear fallout in a disaster keeps showing up as unsolvable problems as officials try to create evacuation plans. The terrain over much of the region is difficult to travel. Weather can cause roads to be blocked by mudslides or blizzards.
A study in Hyogo prefecture found that even far away from the plants, some of their towns would require potassium iodide pills due to the high projected radiation levels. This leaves large populations closer to the plants in Kyoto prefecture even more at risk. Western Japan’s main source of drinking water, Lake Biwa is also near the nuclear plants and there is no plan in place to be able to prevent it from becoming contaminated.
The reality is that this region can not be quickly evacuated and large populations are at risk in the event of a nuclear disaster. These challenges really defy solutions. The larger question is, will the central government allow all these people to be put at risk so a couple of power companies can improve their stock price?
Learn more about the extreme risks in Fukui in our report The Real Risk at Oi
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