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Monday, Nov. 5, 2012

Panel at odds over fault at Oi nuke plant

Kyodo

A fault running under the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture is definitely active, an expert on a Nuclear Regulation Authority panel investigating the compound's safety said Sunday, as other members continued to debate the potential danger.

Toyo University professor Mitsuhisa Watanabe is calling for the immediate halt of two reactors at the plant, the only nuclear facility reactivated since the Fukushima disaster last year, arguing evidence points to an active fault.

"It's certain there is an active fault. Operations should be stopped and another investigation should be conducted" at the Oi plant, Watanabe said.

But Norio Shigematsu, a researcher at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, cautioned that the panel should not reach any conclusions until experts on landslides are consulted.

The panel ended its session Sunday without reaching a final decision.

The future of Japan's nuclear policy depends on whether the panel concludes the fault is active. Many activists have called for an immediate shutdown of the Oi reactors, but the government has so far rejected their demands.

While panel members are in agreement that a fault runs beneath key water pipe equipment for the No. 3 and 4 reactors, which are currently in operation, they are examining photos of soil samples taken from the complex to determine whether it is active.

Panel head Kunihiko Shimazaki, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, said that if necessary, its members may ask operator Kansai Electric Power Co. to conduct another investigation into the fault before drawing a conclusion.



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