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» Not enough vehicles to move residents safety at nuclear diaster

The gargantuan task of moving residents in a nuclear crisis will fall on chartered buses, according to the local governments’ evacuation plans.

The problem is there may not be nearly enough vehicles to move huge numbers of people to safety.

Some prefectures already realize they would be lucky to assemble just half the number of buses for the job.

There is also opposition from bus companies, which say they will not subject their drivers to hazardous radiation risks.

In a 10-kilometer radius of Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, which has passed safety checks for a restart, surveys show that local governments can charter only one-fourth of buses that would be needed to evacuate residents.

Although the prefecture plans to sign an agreement with the prefectural association of bus companies to preferentially charter vehicles, a local bus drivers’ union said it will oppose the plan unless safety measures for drivers are mapped out.

According to evacuation plans submitted by Satsuma-Sendai, the city hosting the nuclear plant, and surrounding municipalities within a 30-km radius of the plant, people who need nursing care and others without family cars will have to evacuate by bus.

In response to the prefectural government’s inquiries, authorities in Satsuma-Sendai and Ichiki-Kushikino said they would need 415 buses that can accommodate 30 to 50 passengers each to evacuate all residents from a 10-km radius of the nuclear plant.

The two cities own only a handful of buses, and would rely on chartered private buses in the event of a serious accident.

The number of buses owned by about 80 companies of the Kagoshima bus association totaled around 2,200 at the end of last year. Most of these buses, however, are route buses, which are not suitable for evacuating residents.

Association officials said that they can only dispatch about 100 buses in the area. In order to evacuate all residents in nine municipalities in a 30-km radius of the plant, it will require far more buses.

During an earlier session at the prefectural assembly, officials said they plan to sign an agreement with the Kagoshima bus association, but no progress in that regard.

<Media Report>
Not nearly enough buses for mass exodus after nuclear accident (Asahi Newspapaer)


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