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Drones tested in Japan nuclear disaster drill for first time near Ikata plant in Ehime

JIJI, Kyodo

Drones carried supplies for the first time in a nuclear disaster drill on Wednesday at Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata nuclear power plant in Ehime Prefecture.

The exercise by the Ehime Prefectural Government involved 23,000 participants from 97 organizations, including all municipalities in Ehime and the government of Oita Prefecture on Kyushu, just across the Seto Inland Sea.

The drill scenario was that the plant’s No. 3 reactor had lost all of its power due to an earthquake and that radioactive substances had been released into the air.

The Ikata plant lies at the base of Cape Sada, which extends westward toward Kyushu, so residents of the cape’s western side could find themselves cut off and unable to evacuate if a severe nuclear accident occurred.

During the drill, 45 residents boarded private or Japan Coast Guard vessels at the port of Misaki in the town of Ikata, to head for Oita.

The drones were used in the cities of Ozu and Seiyo, both within 30 kilometers of the Ikata plant. Operated by remote control from the prefectural office in Matsuyama via a mobile communications network, the drones carried “medicine” — 400 grams of candy — for 2 kilometers. They also took aerial pictures of the evacuation routes and sent them to the Ehime government.

“They can be used to carry supplies even when fog prevents helicopters from flying,” a prefectural government official said.

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