Sunday, 19 October 2014

Threat to Japanese nuclear plants from volcanoes

Another Volcano Eruption could cause Nuclear Crisis in Japan

18 October, 2014

A 9.0 magnitude earthquake in 2011 damaged the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant and now a well-known volcanologist has warned that Sendai nuclear power plant in southern Japan could be impacted by an eruption of one of several volcanoes.

Such an eruption could cause a nationwide disaster, a report by the Associated Press said. In contrast, it was earlier said by Japanese regulators that the nuclear plant in southern Japan had successfully passed all the safety requirements to sustain a massive earthquake. It was also claimed that no major volcanic eruption will take place in the area for at least 30 years.

It is very difficult to prove the veracity of predictions of eruptions more than days or hours ahead of time, said University of Tokyo professor emeritus Toshitsugu Fujii. About 90,000 years ago, an eruption of the still active Mount Sakurajima occurred near the Sendai power plant in Kagoshima prefecture. Several studies have concluded that the volcanic eruption spewed pyroclastic flow as far as 90 miles away.

The professor has now warned that the Sendai nuclear plant could suffer serious damages due to a similar eruption today. According to Fujii, it may become impossible to reach or leave the power plant in the wake of heavy rain of ash from a volcanic eruption. Even worse, other parts of the country could be affected, including Tokyo and other nuclear operations in western Japan. Movement of vehicles would be hindered because of heavy ash and electrical blackouts will be caused. It also threatens electric shutdown in the reactor's cooling system.

Fujii said that there is a big risk involved in starting the reactors because of the instability in the region.

"Scientifically, they're not safe. If they still need to be restarted despite uncertainties and risks that remain, it's for political reasons, not because they're safe, and you should be honest about that", said Fujii

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