Monday, 27 October 2014

Japanese nuclear reactor under threat from volcano

Ioyama volcano raises fears Japan’s Sendai nuclear power facility may be at risk


FIRST it was an earthquake. Then it was a tsunami. Now Japan fears another nuclear disaster — this time because of a stirring volcano.

26 October, 2014

The Japan Times has reported a sleeping volcano next to its already damaged Sendai nuclear power facility has woken, and is beginning to shake.

The new activity comes barely a month after the sudden and unexpected eruption of Mount Ontake killed 57 hikers enjoying its until-then scenic slopes.

Volcanologists have warned that the enormous magnitude 9.0 earthquake of March 2011 may have increased the likelihood of volcanic activity throughout Japan — which sits on the “Ring of Fire” band of more than 100 volcanoes which forms the Pacific Rim.

Now the signs appear to be proving them right.

 Factory facilities look damaged in an industrial complex in Sendai, northern Japan, 12/03/2011. Japan launched a massive mil...
Toppled plans ... Factory facilities look damaged in an industrial complex in Sendai, northern Japan, after a giant, quake-fed tsunami killed hundreds of people and turned the north-eastern coast into a swampy wasteland, sparking fears of a possible meltdown at the nuclear reactor. Source: AP

The waking of Mount Ioyama on the island of Kyushu comes after a recent warning from a prominent Japanese volcanologist about the Sendai nuclear plant’s vulnerability.

A cauldron eruption at one of several volcanoes surrounding the Sendai nuclear power plant could hit the reactors and cause a nationwide disaster, said Toshitsugu Fujii, head of a government-commissioned panel on volcanic eruption prediction.

Mount Ioyama sits virtually next door to the power plant. In recent weeks it has started experiencing tremors, the Japanese Metrological Agency’s volcano bureau says.

The implications for restarting the repaired Sendai nuclear power plant are serious.

The spectre of the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which experienced a partial meltdown, continues to cause scandal and controversy.
A second such crisis would do irreparable damage to the industry.

Now Mount Ioyama has suddenly gone from the dormant end of the threat scale to the second-highest. This means the area around the crater can be regarded as dangerous, and that small-scale eruptions are likely.

Another volatile giant, Mount Sakurajima, sits some 40km from the Sendai facility. This is a very active volcano with frequent minor eruptions

Experts warn of volcano destroying Japan at any moment, causing nation’s extinction
  • Millions buried by lava in minutes, ‘hopeless’ for 120,000,000 people
  • Reactors would be devastated and spread nuclear waste worldwide
  • Gov’t: Volcano near nuke plant is shaking, tremor 7 minutes long… ‘Stay away’
  • Increased eruption risk due to 3/11 quake



26 October, 2014

Wall St Journal, Oct. 23, 2014 (emphasis added):  One major volcanic eruption could make Japan “extinct,” a study by experts at Kobe University warns… “We should be aware… It wouldn’t be a surprise if such gigantic eruption were to take place at any moment.”

Japan Times, Oct. 24, 2014: Colossal volcanic eruption could destroy Japan at any time: study — Japan could be nearly destroyed by a volcanic eruption over the next century thatwould put nearly all of its population of 127 million people at risk… “It is not an overstatement to say that a colossal volcanic eruption would leave Japan extinct as a country,” Kobe University earth sciences professor Yoshiyuki Tatsumi and associate professor Keiko Suzuki said… A disaster on Kyushu… would see an area with 7 million people buried by flows of lava and molten rock in just two hours [and] making nearly the entire country “unlivable”… It would be “hopeless” trying to save about 120 million

Japan Times, Oct. 24, 2014: Volcano near Sendai nuclear plant is shaking and may eruptAuthorities warned on Friday that a volcano a few dozen kilometers from the Sendai nuclear plant may eruptIt warned people to stay away… Ioyama [shows] signs of rising volcanic activity recently, including a tremor lasting as long as seven minutes… the Meteorological Agency’s volcano division said… [T]he area around the crater is dangerous, he added… On Friday, the warning level for the Sakurajima volcano was at 3, which means people should not approach the peak… Experts warn [the] earthquake in March 2011 may haveincreased the risk of volcanic activity throughout the nation

Japan Times, Oct 18, 2014: Sendai reactors vulnerable to eruptions [and] could cause a nationwide disaster, said Toshitsugu Fujii, University of Tokyo professor emeritus who heads a government-commissioned panel… [R]egulators ruled out a major eruption… [Fujii] said at best an eruption can be predicted only a matter of hours or days. Studies have shown that pyroclastic flow… at one of the volcanos near the Sendai plant… reached as far as 145 kilometers away, Fujii said. He said a pyroclastic flow from Mount Sakurajima… could easily hit the nuclear plant, which is only 40 kilometers away. Heavy ash falling from an eruption would make it impossible to reach the plant… he said. Many nuclear power plants could be affected

Asahi Shimbun, May 12, 2014: Now is the time to rethink the risk of operating nuclear power plants… it is the first time that Japan has seriously evaluated… the danger posed by volcanoes… Nuclear power plants… would suffer devastating damage from catastrophic eruptions… radioactive materials will continue to be scattered throughout the world

University of Tokyo professor Toshitsugu Fujii, head of government panel on eruption prediction: “Scientifically, they’re not safe… If [reactors] still need to be restarted… it’s for political reasons, not because they’re safe, and you should be honest about that.”








Japan warns of increased activity at volcano near nuclear plant





25 October 2014 – JAPAN Japan warned on Friday that a volcano in southern Japan located roughly 64 km (40 miles) from a nuclear plant was showing signs of increased activity that could possibly lead to a small-scale eruption and warned people to stay away from the summit. The warning comes nearly a month after another volcano, Mt Ontake, erupted suddenly when crowded with hikers, killing 57 people in Japan’s worst volcanic disaster in nearly 90 years. Ioyama, a mountain on the southwestern island of Kyushu, has been shaken by small tremors and other signs of rising volcanic activity recently, including a tremor lasting as long as seven minutes, an official at the Japan Meteorological Agency’s volcano division said. “There is an increase in activity that under certain circumstances could even lead to a small scale eruption, but it is not in danger of an imminent, major eruption,” the official said. The warning level on the mountain has been raised from the lowest possible level, normal, to the second lowest, which means that the area around the crater is dangerous, he added.

Ioyama lies in the volcanically active Kirishima mountain range and is roughly 64 km from the Sendai nuclear plant run by Kyushu Electric Power Co, which the Japanese government wants to restart even though the public remains opposed to nuclear power following the Fukushima crisis. Critics point out that the Sendai plant is located about 50 kms (31 miles) from Mount Sakurajima, an active volcano that erupts frequently. Five giant calderas, crater-like depressions formed by past eruptions, are also in the region, the closest one 40 kms (25 miles) away. The plant still needs to pass operational safety checks as well as gain the approval of local authorities and may not restart till next year. –Reuters



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