OSAKA – Ehime Prefecture announced Monday revised plans for cooperating with six other prefectures in the event of an accident at its Ikata nuclear plant.
The prefecture will share information and cooperate on nuclear disaster drill planning with Tokushima, Kagawa, Kochi and Hiroshima prefectures, which will also accept evacuees in the event of an emergency.
Previous plans called for the nearly 130,000 people in seven towns lying within 30 km of the Ikata plant to be evacuated to locations elsewhere within the prefecture as well as to Oita and Yamaguchi prefectures.
The revised plan calls for Oita to decide which towns and villages would take evacuees from Ehime, based on its own abilities at the time of a disaster, and for Yamaguchi to specify which facilities it would use as evacuation centers.
Priority will be given to land-based evacuations. But in the event that roads leading from Ehime to other parts of Shikoku can’t be used, residents will be sent to Oita by sea and air.
Last month, Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata No. 3 reactor took a major step toward a restart when the Nuclear Regulation Authority approved a basic safety report. However, the reactor is not expected to go live until at least this winter because the operator needs to obtain other forms of clearance, including local consent.
Concerned about the central government’s push to restart nuclear plants as quickly as possible without sufficient understanding between local governments and nuclear authorities on how they would carry out evacuations, some prefectures, towns and villages have banded together to press Tokyo to work more closely with local authorities.
The law requires local governments that sit within 30 km of a nuclear plant to draw up evacuation and response measures.
However, many people live in towns and villages that lie outside the prefecture where the plant is located, creating concerns about timely communications between local and prefectural authorities, the utilities and the central government.