Two-day nuclear accident simulation wraps up at Hokkaido plant

Kyodo

The government wrapped up a two-day disaster drill Monday at the Tomari nuclear power plant in Hokkaido, simulating a severe accident triggered by a powerful earthquake and tsunami.

On Monday, the town of Kyowa, located less than 5 km of the plant, distributed iodine tablets to residents under a simulation in which a reactor core was severely damaged. Iodine tablets prevent the thyroid gland from being exposed to radiation.

About 14,000 officials and residents took part in the exercise, which included training on evacuating foreign nationals to shelters. This was included because the number of foreign visitors to Hokkaido surpassed 2 million last fiscal year.

The drill started early Sunday with residents and officials taking part in a simulation that a tsunami of up to 3.4 meters high was set to strike after a strong earthquake rocked the village of Tomari, where Hokkaido Electric Power Co. has a nuclear plant.

Following a tsunami alert issued shortly after 8:30 a.m., 13 residents evacuated on foot to a shelter on high ground around 4 km from the plant.

“I also fear fire in winter,” said Chiyoko Hosoi, 74, one of the participants. “If an earthquake really happens and there is an emergency, I may take more time (to reach safety).”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took part in the drill Sunday by declaring an emergency during a news conference at his Tokyo office.

The Tomari plant is currently offline and the drill was conducted under the assumption that one of its three reactors was operating.