Lawmakers' group identifies Japan's most dangerous nuclear reactors

June 28, 2012

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

The No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at Fukui Prefecture's Oi nuclear power plant are the most dangerous in Japan, according to a cross-party group of lawmakers opposed to nuclear power.

Genpatsu Zero no Kai (Group for zero nuclear power), made up of nine politicians from seven political parties, ranked the threat posed by the nation's 50 reactors on a 10-point scale.

Oi's two oldest reactors, which are more than 30 years old and located on fault lines that some scientists say may be active, were considered more dangerous than reactors at the Fukushima No. 1, Fukushima No. 2 and Onagawa nuclear plants, which sustained damage from the Great East Japan Earthquake in March last year.

The No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at Oi are currently offline and there are no immediate plans to restart them. The No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the plant, which have been in service for 20 years or less, are due to be restarted in July.

The lawmakers' group, which includes Shoichi Kondo of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, Taro Kono of the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party and Tomoko Abe of the Social Democratic Party, plans to campaign for a staged scrapping of nuclear reactors according to the risks they pose, similar to the policy adopted by Germany.

The group ranked the danger posed by the reactors in Japan, taking into account the reactor type, containment vessel type, years in service, average utilization rate, the number of past accidents, the reactor's ductile-brittle transition temperature (the threshold temperature at which the metal used in its construction loses its ductility), seismological safety precautions, ground conditions and the size of the local population.

The group will call for the decommissioning of reactors that ranked high in their rating, as well as reactors at the Fukushima No. 1, Fukushima No. 2 and Onagawa nuclear plants; the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, which was damaged by the Niigata Chuetsu-oki Earthquake of July 2007; and the Hamaoka nuclear plant, where operations were stopped in May 2011 at the request of Naoto Kan, who was prime minister at the time of the nuclear disaster.

In evaluating the hazard levels, the group sought advice from expert members of the Fundamental Issues Subcommittee of the government's Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy.

An official release of the ranking table was scheduled for June 28.

The group on June 27 released a policy recommendation for the decommissioning of nuclear reactors, calling for legislative measures and assistance to local communities that host nuclear plants. A final recommendation is expected next month.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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