Friday, May 27, 2011

JAPAN - Nuclear: a step in the right direction

Prime Minister Naoto Kan told the group Chubu Electric [supplier of the central part of Honshu Island] that it would close the Hamaoka nuclear power plant, located just above the fault earthquake could trigger a major earthquake in the near future. He asked the operator to stop the reactor No. 4 and No.

5 and not to restart the reactor No. 3, stopped for a routine check. After the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant following the earthquake of 11 March 2011, it was difficult to provide the international community a compelling enough reason to continue in service Hamaoka power plant, while the latter is regarded by experts as the most dangerous plants Japanese.

Concerns in the region are even larger than tectonic activity around the archipelago has intensified recently. Moreover, the share of nuclear energy in total electricity generation Chubu Electric is relatively low, the group quickly accepted the request of the Prime Minister. However, according to the calculations of the group, the closure of all units of the power of Hamaoka assumes that the consumption of electricity during the summer period of high demand is reduced significantly.

Businesses and households will therefore have to make an effort. Among the measures to secure the plant in case of an earthquake of high magnitude, Chubu Electric is planning to build a dam. For Prime Minister, the units must remain stopped until measures to prevent a disaster in the medium and long term, and in particular the construction of the dam in place.

What is noteworthy here is that the crisis has shaken the myth Fukushima nuclear safety and that it is now considered the worst accident in the world could happen in Japan. Since the country was hit by an earthquake of magnitude 9 that experts had not expected, Chubu Electric is required to prove the correctness of his assumptions about the strength of the earthquake that could hit the Hamaoka plant, the magnitude of the tsunami that it might lead and the resilience of its facilities.

A nuclear accident can quickly escalate into a crisis of such magnitude and complexity unpredictable. Staff efforts to attempt to control it are greatly hampered by power cuts, emissions of radioactivity, equipment failure and aftershocks. Chubu Electric employees will they be able, under these conditions can quickly take appropriate action, including sacrificing the plant? The company must provide convincing answers to these questions, and the government to conduct a rigorous review to determine if it is well able to cope with a nuclear crisis.

Fukushima Daiichi's accident showed the urgency of reviewing all aspects of the regulation of nuclear production beginning with the current safety criteria, monitoring procedures and the role of oversight agencies. The government must establish a new regulatory system before restarting the reactor core Hamaoka.

To meet increased electricity demand during the summer and forecast earnings, the utilities plan to reactivate the reactor being verified. Although the danger is not as high as Hamaoka, these plants at risk. Some aging facilities are located just above the active faults and others have been repeatedly subjected to violent earthquakes.

It is therefore essential to identify high-risk plants, taking into account their location and their history. It is of course difficult to close on the spot all stations. Stopping Hamaoka reactors is a first step towards closing the plant dangerous.

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