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Report: Japanese reactor sits above active fault

All commercial reactors in earthquake-prone country remain offline following Fukushima crisis until clearance in safety review.

25.03.2015
Report: Japanese reactor sits above active fault

TOKYO

A Japanese nuclear regulation watchdog created after the Fukushima disaster has accepted a report saying that a reactor at a plant on the Sea of Japan coast is situated above an active geological fault.

The report, submitted to the Nuclear Regulation Authority, explained that at least one fault under the No. 2 reactor of the Japan Atomic Power Co.'s Tsuruga plant could move in the future, Kyodo News reported.

After the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis, all commercial reactors in the earthquake-prone country remain offline until their clearance in the regulator's safety review.

It is prohibited for reactors and other safety-requiring facilities to be built directly above active faults.

The “D-1” fault, which Tsuruga in Fukui prefecture rests on, was acknowledged as active in 2013 by the regulator, which conducted additional investigations after Japan Atomic Power provided more data in an attempt at overturning the assessment.

The company is expected to apply for a safety screening to restart the unit, according to Kyodo, but will need to provide new data.

Shunichi Tanaka, the regulator’s chairman, was quoted as saying the body will refer to the report compiled by a panel of experts as "one of the important findings" in safety screening.

It also accepted another report saying that a plant in northern Aomori prefecture was located above at least two key geological faults that could move in the future.

The faults at Tohoku Electric Power Co.'s Higashidori plant, however, are not located directly beneath the reactor, meaning the unit may not be forced to permanently shut down, but could remain offline while its operator works on enhancing safety.

Experts could not gather sufficient data to determine whether another fault directly beneath an important facility at the plant is active, according to the report.

The operator has applied for a safety review for the reactor to restart.

On March 11, Japan marked the four-year anniversary of a strong earthquake and ensuing 15-meter tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people and triggered a nuclear disaster.

On Monday, the Board of Audit of Japan said a total of 189.2 billion yen ($1.58 billion) in taxpayers' money had been spent on decommissioning the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant and measures against radioactive water buildup.

According to the agency, it would take the government up to 30 years to recover the 9 trillion yen it may supply the Tokyo Electric Power Co. for compensation payments related to the crisis.

Japan is one of the world’s most seismically active areas. It accounts for around 20 percent of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.

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