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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

Ehime people fear repeat of Fukushima disaster

August 15, 2016

Kumamoto quakes raise fears over restart at Ikata nuclear plant




IKATA, EHIME PREF. – People living near Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata nuclear plant in Ehime Prefecture fear a repeat of the Fukushima disaster, especially after devastating quakes shook Kyushu in April.

The plant’s No. 3 reactor was fired up Friday, leading some to anticipate economic benefits for local businesses but others to question the wisdom of building a nuclear facility in such an active quake zone.

The heaviest quakes pummeled Kumamoto Prefecture, but temblors also shook Oita Prefecture to the northeast.

The median tectonic line fault belt runs from Shikoku, which includes Ehime Prefecture, to the Kinki region, on an extension of the active fault zone of Kumamoto and Oita. The Ikata nuclear plant is located across a channel from Oita and some 8 km south of the median tectonic line fault belt.

Tadayoshi Yamashita, a 60-year-old fisherman in Ikata, said he feared that Ehime would be hit next when he saw news about the Kumamoto quakes. He is anxious about being able to get away.

“I won’t be able to evacuate if I am trapped under a collapsed house when a nuclear accident occurs,” he said.

But given that the plant supports the livelihoods of a large number of people, “I cannot say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ ” to the restart, Yamashita said.

Many of the town’s residents live in old houses, which are vulnerable to shocks.

“I try not to think about the possibility that a nuclear accident and the collapse of my house might happen simultaneously,” said Yoshio Imura, 80.

His wife, Fudeko, 82, spoke of the need for help in the event that their home collapses. It would be difficult to do anything by themselves, she said.

Fujiko Abe, 66-year-old landlady of the Hamanoya guesthouse, said she hopes the reactor restart will lead to the town’s revitalization.

At the same time, she is worried about her grandchild being at school should a major quake strike.

But Abe said she tells herself the restart is good for business and she won’t worry about a disaster unless one occurs.

Shikoku Electric received a flood of inquiries from residents immediately following the Kumamoto quakes. The utility responded by posting a message on its website at the end of April saying the Ikata facility would be safe even if the active fault of the Kyushu region moved together with the median tectonic line fault belt.

But in May, 12 residents in Ehime Prefecture filed a petition at Matsuyama District Court, seeking to block or cancel the reactivation of the No. 3 reactor.


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