Years after the massive earthquake and tsunami devastated the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, it is still radioactive and dangerous. In spite of the 30 year or more timeline to clean up the mess, Japan has moved ahead to re-start other nuclear reactors.
While the Japanese have a reputation for bravery, the reopening of the Sendai nuclear plant in the shadow of Sakurajima volcano may be considered a touch foolhardy. Sakurajima volcano is that nation’s most active and currently increasing in activity. Local residents were advised in August that they may have to evacuate quickly.
The Sendai One reactor is 50 km from the active volcano and in the vicinity of five caldera, indicating massive eruptions in the past. Japanese authorities have stated that any danger is negligible. To reinforce that confidence, Sendai Two was restarted on October 15.
Other restarts are in the pipeline. Shikoku Electric has their Ikata 3 reactor approved for restart and Kansai Electric’s Takahama 3 and 4 reactors are likely to get the go-ahead to resume power generation early in 2016.
While the ruined Fukushima complex is still festering, the Japanese government has engaged a UK company, Ame Foster Wheeler to conduct a study to help develop a strategy to deal with the massive amount of radioactive waste collected in the efforts to clean up the plant. Some of the radioactive water is being stored in leaky tanks that periodically leak highly radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. Many tonnes of contaminated soil have simply been black bagged and stacked in open air outside areas.
Japan has tightened safety regulations for restarting their nuclear reactors, but many are on the coastline and vulnerable to tsunamis which is what finished off the Fukushima complex. Japan is also active seismically which means frequent earthquakes and active volcanoes. In addition, the country is often hit with destructive typhoons.
The Fukushima accident and meltdown displaced about 150 000 people and left whole towns empty and unusable.
ABC Net News
Nuclear Energy Institute
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