National

Two-day nuclear disaster drill kicks off at Genkai plant in Saga

JIJI

The government on Sunday began a two-day disaster drill based on a hypothetical nuclear accident at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai power station in Saga Prefecture.

Some 6,500 people are participating, including residents and officials from the Cabinet Office, Nuclear Regulation Authority and local municipalities.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, meanwhile, canceled his participation in the drill after North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test later in the day. This caused the part involving officials from the Prime Minister’s Office to be scrapped.

The facility in the town of Genkai, Saga Prefecture, has been offline since the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in March 2011 blew apart Japan’s nuclear safety myth.

Genkai’s No. 3 and No. 4 reactors have effectively passed the NRA’s safety checks based on new standards introduced in July 2013 after the 2011 mega-quake and tsunami triggered the nuclear crisis.

Kyushu Electric aims to bring the No. 3 reactor back online in January.

The drill assumes a quake with an intensity of 7, the highest on the Japanese intensity scale, has struck northern Saga, where Genkai is situated, and that the power plant’s employees are unable to keep the reactors cool.

The second will see the authorities practice rescuing residents from a nearby island and monitor radiation levels using a helicopter.