30 Septembre 2017
September 30, 2017
No joke: Despite the evidence, nuclear power declared safe
By CHIAKI OGIHARA/ Staff Writer
A facility in Ikata uses a touch-panel screen to inform visitors about nuclear power plant safety using a quiz format. (Video footage by Chiaki Ogihara)
A public relations facility here that was set up to publicize the safety of the Ikata nuclear power plant operated by Shikoku Electric Power Co. still insists that nuclear plants can withstand a tsunami of any height.
Like the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant that went into triple meltdown, the Ikata facility faces the coast. A magnitude-9.0 earthquake on March 11, 2011, triggered tsunami that put the Fukushima facility out of action.
More than six years after that catastrophic event, the Ehime prefectural government is finally moving to revise the information designed to ease fears about a nuclear accident.
The contents on display will be updated before the end of the fiscal year because, as one prefectural government official put it, "Some of the information does not square with the current situation."
The facility is located in the Minatoura district of Ikata about four kilometers east of the Ikata nuclear plant. It was established in 1982 by Ehime prefectural authorities to remove concerns the public may have about nuclear power generation.
It is operated by an organization that survives on funding from Shikoku Electric, the Ehime prefectural government and the Ikata town government.
In the last fiscal year, the facility had 1,761 visitors, including elementary school students who live nearby.
Near the entrance to the facility is a touch-panel screen where visitors can learn about nuclear power plants in a quiz format.
One question asks, "What would happen to a nuclear power plant if a large earthquake should strike?"
The three alternatives to choose from are: 1) Continue to generate power; 2) The reactor automatically stops to prevent any form of accident; and 3) It would be destroyed if a large earthquake struck.
The second choice is considered the correct answer.
The monitor also offers this reassurance: "(The nuclear plant) is a sturdy building that would not budge an inch in an earthquake, typhoon or tsunami."
Another entry states that "it was designed with the largest possible quake in mind."
Another question asks, "Would a nuclear power plant explode like a nuclear bomb?"
Again, there are three choices: 1) It would explode if used in a wrong way; 2) It would never explode; and 3) Nuclear reactors might explode once it ages.
The correct answer is again the second choice.
In fact, after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 plant were severely damaged by hydrogen explosions caused by core meltdowns after cooling functions were lost when power to the plant was lost.
About a year ago, facility operators have attached a sign to the touch-panel screen that says, "We are in the process of preparing a revision because some of the wording differs from the current situation."
However, no explanation is offered to show what sections differ from reality.
A prefectural government official in charge of nuclear power safety measures said, "There is some accurate information so we decided it was preferable that some of it was viewed."
But, the official added that the display would be revised along with improvements in other equipment. The cost of about 500,000 yen ($4,400) would be paid for from tax subsidies obtained through laws covering power generation.
After the Fukushima nuclear accident, a new display was added to show the safety measures being taken at the Ikata plant. There is also a video shown at the facility which explains there has been no noticeable spike in cancer rates or hereditary illness caused by radiation levels under 100 millisieverts.