Despite widespread public opposition to a restart of nuclear reactors across the country, Japan recently approved the restart of two reactors at the Oi nuclear plant which could go back online as early as July 1st. Today, however, two prominent Japanese seismologists, have argued that that plant reactors sit far more precariously than their operator, Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO), has claimed in order to rush their restart, that officials are moving too fast and that grave dangers still exist.
A mother and her child join a protest against the Japanese government’s decision to restart two nuclear reactors, in front of the Japanese embassy in Bangkok June 15, 2012. (Reuters/Sukree Sukplang) Mitsuhisa Watanabe, tectonic geomorphologist at Toyo University, and Katsuhiko Ishibashi, seismologist and professor emeritus at Kobe University, according to the Asahi Shibum, argued that a set of seismic faults run beneath the facilities and claim the utility has skated over their significance to regulators and the public.
“I find it difficult to understand how the utility can offer such varying data from the same area,” said Watanabe in a press conference, referring to internal KEPCO data they obtained for review. “Yet it has consistently presented the least serious interpretation to the government.”
“The Japanese government should have done a rigorous back-check,” said Ishibashi. “But it has skipped this fundamental process. The back-check should also be reformulated carefully to properly take active faults into account.”
Ishaibashi gained notoriety in Japan after a series of warnings he issued regarding the threat of nuclear disasters from specific seismic activity were proved prescient by the devastating Fukushima disaster in 2011.
“I don’t claim to be able to predict earthquakes, I can only point out tendencies,” he said, but called for the government to take more cautious positions and remain skeptical of industry assurances.