New findings prove no active fault lies under Tsuruga reactor: operator

Kyodo

Japan Atomic Power Co. said Thursday that the latest findings from its additional geological investigation at the Tsuruga nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture prove reactor 2 is not located above an active fault, contradicting a recent assessment by the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

“We strongly urge the NRA to hold discussions and sufficiently examine our new findings to reach a new conclusion,” Japan Atomic Power President Yasuo Hamada told reporters in Tokyo, adding he hopes to apply for the restart of the reactor.

Japan Atomic Power also said it will file an administrative complaint over an NRA order to assess the possible impact of a loss of coolant in reactor 2′s spent-fuel pool in the event that the fault directly beneath the building moves. The complaint procedure is different from taking the matter to court.

According to the company’s latest findings, three faults studied by the NRA, including one called D-1 running below the reactor, have not moved in the last 120,000 to 130,000 years — a timeline designated to determine whether faults are active — because they have not displaced or deformed a geologic layer that includes volcanic ash deposited 127,000 years ago.

The company claimed it has been able to determine when the ash was deposited.

The NRA had concluded that the three faults are linked and it could not be ruled out that D-1 had moved between 120,000 and 130,000 years ago.

Hamada said the company, while awaiting the outcome of the NRA’s review, will make preparations in parallel to apply for a safety assessment for the restart of reactor 2.

But he noted the company is not yet at the stage of announcing when it will file an application, because it needs to make arrangements with the utilities that it sells electricity to.

If the company fails to overturn the NRA’s judgment that an active fault lies directly beneath reactor 2, it may have to scrap the unit.

The company has not secured revenue from its electricity wholesale business because all three of its reactors remain offline, part of a nationwide reactor shutdown stemming from the triple-meltdown disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 complex triggered by the March 2011 mega-quake and monster tsunami.

Japan Atomic Power is surviving on so-called basic fees from several regional utilities with which it has signed contracts to supply electricity.

“Our situation is significant as it will influence many utilities (holding stock in the firm),” Hamada said.

  • Mark Garrett

    In other news, a recent R.J. Reynolds study has shown no link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.