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» Niigata govoner says nuclear plants should not be restarted yet

Niigata Gov. Hirohiko Izumida said Japan should not restart any nuclear plants until the cause of the Fukushima meltdowns is fully understood and nearby communities have emergency plans that can effectively respond to another major disaster.

Izumida, whose prefecture is home to TEPCO’s seven-reactor Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, said that regulators look at equipment but don’t evaluate local evacuation plans.

Izumida declined to comment on another prefecture’s decision, but he said Tepco was responsible for the Fukushima crisis and has no qualifications to resume operating a nuclear plant in his region without fully clarifying unanswered questions about the disaster.

Resuming operations at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant is crucial to Tepco, which is indebted and nationalized due to the astronomical cost of cleaning up Fukushima and compensating affected residents. But the safety inspection has been delayed due to a prolonged investigation into active seismic faults inside the compound, which experts say may affect safety.

Ensuring protection of nearby residents from radiation exposure as part of a multilayer safety measure is an international standard, but still not compulsory to pass safety inspection in Japan. Towns as far as 30 km from the plant, an expansion from the 20 km before the crisis, are now required to compile evacuation plans, but many have not. In some prefectures, the drills exposed that evacuating all residents from the no-go zones would take days. Niigata compiled its evacuation plan in June and is set to test it next month.

<Media Report>

More answers about Fukushima disaster needed before reactor restarts, Niigata governor says (Japan Times)


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