Multiple Safety Issues Being Ignored In Japan’s Nuclear Restart

Multiple significant safety issues are being ignored while Japan appears to be rushing into a restart of their nuclear power plants.

Evacuation plans are not approved or rejected by any government body yet the national government has had a hand in running evacuation drills. Each of these evacuation drills run has had major breakdowns and failures. One saw residents evacuated into the simulated radiation plume. The most recent one near the Shika nuclear plant found they could not evacuate residents by boat due to inclement weather. This could easily be the case during a nuclear disaster. Proof of an evacuation plan is still not a requirement for a nuclear restart in Japan.

The restart approval process itself is hardly representative of public sentiment for all potentially at direct risk. The current approval system only asks the host cities for the nuclear plants. These cities reap large payments yearly from the nuclear plants as pay off for having the plant in their area. There are usually other businesses located in these cities that work at the nuclear plants, adding to the potential bias. Approvals are not done by public referendum, they are decided by political bodies who frequently have conflicts of interest or represent business over the people in their district. An Asahi Shimbun survey found that many neighboring towns want a say in restart decisions and currently do not have one. Other prefectures that do not host a nuclear plant can still find themselves in the potential fallout path but don’t have a say in restart approvals.

Volcano experts in Japan continue to call out the lack of scientific evidence for the NRA’s current safety regulations for nuclear plants vs. volcano risks. The Volcanological Society of Japan is calling for a formal review of NRA’s current volcano safety plan that ignores the science and capability of predicting volcanic activity. The current plan involves plants removing all of the nuclear fuel from a nuclear power plant if they think a volcano is going to have significant activity. This ignores the science behind volcanic prediction, the current capability and the actual logistics of removing decades worth of nuclear fuel from a power plant. There is also currently no location to store removed fuel for such an effort.

NRA began with what appeared to be objectivity and a focus on safety. As new political appointees joined the agency committee, safety risks have been repeatedly ignored. The rest of the restart process appears to be falling into two camps. Those who financially benefit from a nuclear restart and everyone else.

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