Japan nuclear reactor atop active fault: regulator

May 22, 2013
Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority, answers questions during a press conference in Tokyo on January 23, 2013. Japan's nuclear watchdog said Wednesday that one reactor was sitting directly above an active tectonic fault, effectively ruling out a restart forever.

Japan's nuclear watchdog said Wednesday that one reactor was sitting directly above an active tectonic fault, effectively ruling out a restart forever.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) said it had approved a report from experts which found a crack in the Earth's crust lying underneath the reactor at a plant in Tsuruga, western Japan, was active.

"There is a need for us to take the report seriously," NRA chairman Shunichi Tanaka said.

It is the first time the newly-minted NRA has made such a ruling. It is still investigating possibly-active faults under five other reactors. A second reactor at Tsuruga, which sits 300 metres (328 yards) away, is not one of this number.

The final decision on a restart rests with the government, who are expected to be asked by plant operator Japan to overrule the .

Observers say despite its pro-nuclear stance, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration is unlikely to risk public ire by backing the operator, meaning the reactor would become the first to be permanently shuttered since the Fukushima disaster.

Only two of Japan's 50 nuclear reactors have been restarted after being switched off for safety checks in the aftermath of the tsunami-sparked catastrophe in March 2011, where reactors went into .

Government rules ban nuclear reactors and other facilities with important safety functions from being located directly above "active faults", which are currently defined as those that have moved in the last 120,000-130,000 years.

The NRA experts spent more than five months looking at the under the and said they could not say with certainty that the fault was not active.

Japan Atomic Power, which maintains the fault is not active, said it would continue conducting its own investigations.

Since Abe became prime minister last December, observers have speculated it is just a matter of time before idled reactors are restarted, with industry pleading for a cheaper electricity supply than that coming from fossil fuel plants in use now.

The Abe government has also resumed Japan's drive to export nuclear plants. On May 3, Japan signed a deal to build a plant on Turkey's Black Sea coast.

Explore further: Engineering new vehicle powertrains

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Second Japan nuclear plant at fault risk

Dec 14, 2012

A second nuclear plant in Japan sits atop a possibly active seismic fault, government-appointed experts said Friday, days after the first facility was said to be at risk.

Japan's Abe 'to review Fukushima' atomic crisis

Dec 23, 2012

Japan's incoming pro-nuclear premier Shinzo Abe said Sunday his government will again investigate the Fukushima atomic crisis, after which the country's reactors could be restarted, reports said.

Fukushima 'unprecedented challenge': new Japan PM

Dec 29, 2012

The clean-up at Fukushima after its tsunami-sparked nuclear meltdowns is unlike anything humanity has ever undertaken, Japan's prime minister said on Saturday during a tour of the plant.

Recommended for you

Engineering new vehicle powertrains

15 hours ago

Car engines – whether driven by gasoline, diesel, or electricity – waste an abundance of energy. Researchers are working on ways to stem this wastefulness. Ultramodern test facilities are helping them ...

First self-contained step dimming LED tube

Sep 30, 2014

Samsung Electronics today introduced the industry's first AC Direct step-dimming LED linear replacement for T8 and T12 fluorescent tubes at the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) Convention ...

Battery system will be able to light 2,500 homes

Sep 30, 2014

One of the largest, most environmentally-friendly, battery-based energy storage systems in the nation will be installed at the University of California, San Diego the campus announced today (Sept. 29).

User comments : 0