Fault-linked nuke plants sitting on 800 tons of fuel

JIJI

A combined 800 tons of spent nuclear fuel is being stored at two power stations thought to have active quake faults running underneath them.

Japan Atomic Power Co., operator of the Tsuruga plant in Fukui Prefecture, said Sunday that the storage pool of reactor 2 contains roughly 500 tons of spent fuel and the pool for reactor 1 has about 80 tons.

Beneath both buildings are crush zones that have been judged active faults by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. And another active fault has been found 250 meters away from unit 2.

At the Higashidori plant in Aomori Prefecture, meanwhile, Tohoku Electric Power Co. said Sunday that there are 131 tons of spent fuel inside reactor 1 and another 104 in the building’s fuel pool. The building is 200 to 400 meters from two crush zones that have been determined to be active faults.

Ruling out the existence of active faults under the reactors, both Japan Atomic Power and Tohoku Electric said they have no plans to relocate the plants.

But if the crush zones in question actually move, the fuel pools’ cooling systems could be damaged, experts warn.

Nuclear fuel generates much less heat once it’s spent, but it still must be left to cool in water pools for about five years. The three reactors at the Tsuruga and Higashidori plants were halted last year.

Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi power plant has 262 tons of spent fuel in reactors 3 and 4, the only units operating in Japan, and 1,329 tons in the reactor buildings’ pools.

The NRA plans to conduct on-site fault checks at the Oi plant, also in Fukui, from Friday.