Nuclear Power Plants and Earthquakes in Japan


Cooler King
Staff member
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Of the 31 nations and regions with nuclear power plants, Japan is the most at risk of being hit by an earthquake. Particularly worrisome is the fact that Japan has lots of nuclear power plants and nuclear power plants and nuclear treatment facilities are built in earthquake-prone areas. The nuclear industry claims these facilities are safe. They are designed to withstand a strong earthquake and the maximum ground motion caused by such a quake. Safety measures include devices that automatically shut the plant after an earthquake occurs and prevent leakage, incredibly strong foundations and containment shells.

Some nuclear power plants are being shut down permanently because the cost retrofitting them to make them to meet the latest earthquake resistance standards is too expensive.

In March 2006, a court ordered that the Shika nuclear reactor, located on the Japan Sea north of Kanazawa, be closed over worries that it wasn’t earthquake-resistant enough and there was serious concerns that residents could be exposed to dangerous amounts of radiation in the event of an accident. A major fault is located about 10 kilometers south of the plant. A couple years earlier scientists estimated there was a 2 percent chance that an earthquake of a magnitude of 7.6 or higher could occur on this fault.

The decision raised questions about other reactors that lie in earthquake-prone areas and whether their designs could withstand a very strong quake. Plants in Miyagi Prefecture survived and automatically stopped during a 7.2 earthquake in the August 2005. Scientists predict a 7.5 earthquake will occur there in the next 30 years.

See Iwate-Miyagi Earthquake, Nature and Science, Big Earthquakes

A 15-kilometer-long active fault lies under the Monju fast breeder reactor in. Tsuruga Peninsula in Fukui Prefecture. The revelation is disturbing in that the plant uses dangerous plutonium as one of the reactors primary fuels.

NUCLEAR ENERGY IN JAPAN - Japan | Facts and Details

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