The government Sunday started a two-day comprehensive disaster drill at Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata nuclear power plant in Ehime Prefecture.
The drill, which started at 8:30 a.m., assumed that the plant’s reactor-cooling functions were lost because of damage to its power sources from an earthquake measuring upper 6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 and radioactive materials leaked outside the plant as a result.
While the No. 3 reactor at the plant is likely to be reactivated sometime at the beginning of next year at the earliest, securing evacuation routes is important.
This is the third disaster drill to be conducted by the government at one of the nation’s nuclear plants since the triple reactor meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station was crippled by a magnitude-9 earthquake and subsequent huge tsunami that struck part of the Tohoku region in March 2011.
The two-day drill is being participated in by officials of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the Cabinet Office and the Defense Ministry, as well as about 13,000 residents living near the plant, including elementary and junior high school students.
As the nuclear power station is located in the town of Ikata, on the Sadamisaki Peninsula, one major challenge is ensuring some 5,000 people living on the peninsula can be evacuated safely in case of an accident at the plant.
In the drill, residents will be evacuated by bus. On Monday, a ferry and a support ship of the Maritime Salf-Defense Force will be used to evacuate about 70 residents from the peninsula to nearby Oita Prefecture.
In July this year, the NRA concluded that the Ikata No. 3 reactor meets the country’s new safety standards introduced in July 2013 following the Fukushima No. 1 plant accident.
Last month, local leaders, including Ehime Gov. Tokihiro Nakamura, gave their consent to the restart of the No. 3 unit.