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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

NISA urged to probe if Oi plant sits on fault

Staff writer

Antinuclear groups demanded Monday that the government's nuclear watchdog investigate a possible active fault running directly underneath the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture before Kansai Electric Power Co. fires reactors 3 and 4 back up.

News photo
Finding fault: Nuclear foes, along with Social Democratic Party chief Mizuho Fukushima (right), confront government officials Monday in Tokyo over fault risks at the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture. KAZUAKI NAGATA

Seismic experts pointed out recently that a crush zone under the plant might be an active fault that could slide if nearby faults act up. That poses the risk of critical damage, they said.

People from nine antinuclear groups, including residents of Fukui Prefecture, faced off with officials at the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency in an arranged meeting. They demanded that NISA re-examine the zone as soon as possible with the latest knowledge.

Shunichiro Mita, a NISA official, told the crowd he could not give an immediate answer but will consider the request.

Kepco has said the zone is not an active fault and NISA sides with this view. But a profile of the crush zone on its north side, which was surveyed when Kepco applied to build reactors 3 and 4, actually shows a trace of potential layer slide in the past 120,000 to 130,000 years, while the south side of the zone shows little trace of such movement. A fault that experienced even a slight slide in the past 120,000 to 130,000 years would be defined as active.

NISA and Kepco only provided the south side of the profile during government panel meetings held to examine the earthquake resistance of the Oi nuclear plant.

The groups asked whether NISA and Kepco intentionally ignored the potential threat.

"It is wrong to say we intentionally hid the (north side) profile . . . we thought experts could properly judge it with just one side of the profile," said Mita.

The groups are skeptical as NISA reversed its position in April that a crush zone under the nearby Tsuruga nuclear plant is not an active fault. NISA now says it might be active in light of the latest survey, and needs further investigation.

Tepco faces audit


The Board of Audit of Japan plans to inspect the overall operations of Tokyo Electric Power Co. because the utility will be effectively nationalized after receiving public funds, sources said Monday.

Tepco has to pay a crippling amount of compensation over the nuclear crisis at its Fukushima No. 1 power plant and is set to receive ¥1 trillion in public funds next month.

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The Japan Times

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