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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cities near Hamaoka nuke plant rule out restart


SHIZUOKA — Local assemblies near Omaezaki, Shizuoka Prefecture, have issued resolutions and opinions in the past year calling for the "permanent shutdown" or "decommissioning of reactors" at Chubu Electric Power Co.'s Hamaoka Nuclear Power Station.

The plant in Omaezaki was ordered halted on May 14, 2011, by the government over concerns that its two operating reactors would not be able to withstand the kind of quake-tsunami double punch that caused three reactors to experience meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant two months earlier.

The assemblies' demands counter efforts by Chubu Electric Power to gain approval to restart the Hamaoka reactors after it finishes building a high seawall to protect it from major tsunami.

Four cities within 10 km of the plant have signed a nuclear safety agreement with Chubu Electric on measures ensuring residents' safety if the reactors are operating.

Under the agreement, the utility must notify local governments if the plant experiences an accident or other problem. Nearby residents must also consent to any expansion of the shoreline complex.

Local officials, however, do not have the legal power to compel a utility to take safety measures. That can only be done by the central government.

Since the Fukushima crisis started, however, utilities have come to realize they need to uphold safety agreements with the communities near their nuclear plants.

Of the four nearby Shizuoka municipalities, the assembly of Makinohara, adjacent to Omaezaki, adopted a resolution Sept. 26 demanding the plant be halted.

"The Hamaoka nuclear power plant, sitting right on the epicenter region of a (potential) Tokai earthquake, should be permanently suspended unless safety and security are ensured (well) into the future," the resolution stated.

Mayor Shigeki Nishihara also declared he does not want the Hamaoka plant restarted.

Four days later, the assembly of Omaezaki issued a statement saying, "We are perplexed by the resolution at a time when construction of a seawall has started."

The assemblies of two other adjacent cities are cautious about Hamaoka's resumption. Kikugawa adopted a statement Sept. 26 and Kakegawa did likewise Dec. 22. Both said any restart of the plant should gain the consent of neighboring governments and residents.

The Fukushima crisis has led to sterner disaster-preparedness measures extending to a 30-km radius from nuclear power stations, instead of the current 10 km.

At Hamaoka, the expanded coverage includes five more cities and two towns. In these municipalities, voices have already grown calling for either the reactors to be decommissioned or restarted.

The assembly of Yoshida, which is within 20 km of the plant, adopted a statement and resolution Dec. 16 demanding the reactors be retired at Hamaoka.

The city of Yaizu, within 30 km, adopted a resolution Dec. 21 demanding the plant not be restarted. Yaizu was the home port of the tuna boat Fukuryu Maru No. 5, which was exposed to fallout from a U.S. hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific in 1954.

When it comes to Hamaoka, the municipal assembly adopted a statement last June stating it would not accept any reactor restart unless measures are taken to fully ensure safety.

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