Tsuruga mayor: Boost safety to restart reactors


The mayor of Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, home to a nuclear power plant, called Thursday on the central government to set up a new safety standard for reactivating idled reactors based on lessons learned from the Fukushima crisis.

Submitting a petition to Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yukio Edano in Tokyo, Mayor Kazuharu Kawase also requested that the government offer financial support to the city to offset the “large effects” of the prolonged suspension and delayed construction of reactors on the region’s economy and employment.

“We have had nuclear power as a local industry for about 50 years. So we have concerns about various economic and employment issues,” Kawase told Edano.

Edano said the government intends to work out a new safety standard as soon as possible.

In Tsuruga, which sits on the Sea of Japan coast, Japan Atomic Power Co. operates the two-reactor Tsuruga nuclear power plant and the government-run Japan Atomic Energy Agency operates the Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor. Fukui Prefecture has 14 reactors in total, more than any other prefecture.

In the petition, also signed by heads of the municipal assembly and the local chamber of commerce, the mayor states that the city requests the central government to soon outline a provisional safety standard for nuclear power generation based on lessons learned from the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

“Procedures for resuming operation (of reactors) should be advanced steadily while implementing safety measures based on the (new safety standard) and under a local agreement,” the petition says.

The city also requested that the central government make sure the planned establishment of a new nuclear regulatory agency under the Environment Ministry will not delay necessary safety measures.

Data ignored for years

Japan Atomic Power Co. overlooked for seven years data from its sonic survey of 2005 finding that a fault running under its Tsuruga nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture could trigger an earthquake more serious than anticipated, a government-affiliated researcher alleged Wednesday.

The data’s importance was confirmed through recent re-examination by a team of researchers at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.

Earlier in March, Yuichi Sugiyama, leader of the team, said the Urazoko fault under the plant is at least 35 km long and could trigger a magnitude 7.4 temblor.

Previous predictions had estimated the fault could produce a temblor releasing less than half that amount of energy.

The research team estimated the length of the Urazoko fault by combining other faults connected to it, and the magnitude based on the assumption that the fault would cause a total displacement of more than 3 meters if it becomes active.

The government’s Earthquake Research Committee and Japan Atomic Power earlier estimated that the Urazoko fault, including other faults connected to it, is 25 km long.

Japan Atomic Energy has failed to provide the data for studies undertaken by an expert panel launched in 2008 by the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.