I was working on this very topic back in 2005-2006 over at Japan Offspring Fund.
Junichi Kowaka noted:
Of all the 52 active nuclear reactors in Japan experts agree that the 5 reactors in Hamaoka are the most dangerous.
Hamaoka sits directly over a subduction zone near the junction of two tectonic plates. The ground is not solid rock, but sand.
This area is in fact overdue for a major earthquake.
When the radioactivity is released, it will be much worse than if an atomic bomb was dropped in the region.
At Japan Offspring Fund, we are concerned with safety issues, and we would like to provide advice about what you can do to escape, when such earthquake happens.
I like how the Calvin and Hobbes creator dealt with this issue, from the point of view of a five year old (or so). Nature vs. the power(s) we cannot contain, safely.
Or are we just trying to get by? Back then why did we not regard the Fukushima nuclear reactors as the most dangerous...?
Chubu Electric Power should reconsider reactivating Hamaoka nuclear plant
The utility suspended operations at the atomic power plant shortly after the outbreak of the crisis at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011, following the strong urging of then Prime Minister Naoto Kan. Since resumption of operations at the plant is highly risky, the power company should rather consider decommissioning the complex.
Chubu Electric Power is considering applying for safety inspections of the No. 4 reactor at the Hamaoka plant to restart the unit ahead of its idled No. 3 and 5 reactors. Its No. 1 and 2 reactors are set to be decommissioned. The company cannot restart the No. 4 reactor until October 2015, because it needs to implement additional safety measures.
Nevertheless, the company intends to hastily apply for safety inspections because its increasing reliance on thermal power stations has resulted in a sharp rise in fuel expenses. The utility estimates that it will suffer from a net loss in the business year ending in March 2014 for the third consecutive year. To make up for its increasing losses, the company plans to raise its electricity charges sometime around April next year. Under these circumstances, the Chubu Electric Power board has apparently deemed it indispensable to restart the Hamaoka plant in order to improve its profitability.
However, the conditions of its site have posed a unique danger to the power station. When he urged Chubu Electric Power to suspend operations at the power station, then Prime Minister Kan explained that he considered the huge impact that a serious accident at the Hamaoka nuclear plant could have upon Japanese society as a whole. His explanation is rational.
The plant is situated just above the focus area of a powerful earthquake feared to be triggered by the Nankai trough -- and it could be hit by a massive tsunami if one were to be generated by such a temblor. Furthermore, there is a major industrial district near the power station, and the Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train line and the Tomei Expressway -- two main transportation arteries between eastern and western Japan -- also run nearby. Should a serious nuclear accident occur at the plant, it could cause extremely serious damage to neighboring areas alone. Moreover, such a disaster could divide the Japanese archipelago, dealing a serious blow to the livelihoods of all members of the public, as well as to the industry as a whole.
Even if the nuclear plant's operator implemented various safety measures, it would be difficult to overcome the risks involved with the facility being situated in such an area. The city assembly of Makinohara, situated within 10 kilometers from the Hamaoka plant, has adopted a resolution demanding that the power station be permanently shut down unless its safety is guaranteed. It is expected to be difficult to gain consent from the Shizuoka Prefectural Government, as well as nearby municipalities, for reactivation.
Although business performance improvements are certainly something that company executives should think about, Chubu Electric Power board members should reconsider whether resumption of operations at the Hamaoka plant will truly lead to improvements in its business performance.
Under the Act on Compensation for Nuclear Damage, electric power companies are liable for damages from any accident at nuclear plants that they operate. Since such responsibility is too heavy for a single private company to fulfill, however, even Tokyo Electric Power Co. -- the largest company in the industry -- has been placed under state control following the outbreak of the Fukushima disaster. Therefore, it makes no rational sense for Chubu Electric Power executives to consider restarting the Hamaoka plant.
Behind Chubu Electric Power being so desperate to restart the Hamaoka plant is that the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is leaning toward approving reactivation of idled nuclear reactors without showing a future vision concerning Japan's nuclear power policy. The government needs to show a road map toward ending Japan's reliance on nuclear power, and put its utmost efforts into urging power companies to shut down dangerous nuclear plants.
September 27, 2013(Mainichi Japan)