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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

100,000 Year Old Seismic Fault Could Scrap Nuclear Reactor

According to a team of Japanese geologist, there is a seismic fault under the Tsuruga-shi, Fukui-ken nuclear reactor site that may have been active as recently as 100,000 years ago.

Yeah, so?

Well, in geological terms, that is still recent enough for them to feat that the seismic fault could still be active.

An active seismic fault is considered a fault that has been active withing the past 120,000 years.

On November 14, 2012, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) of Japan planned a field survey of the Tsuruga site to check for faults under the and/or around the facility.

On December 1 and 2, a five man investigation crew led by NRA commissioner and seismologist Shimazaki Hunihiko (surname first) looked to see if they could exclude the faults that run under the two reactors.

Apparently only 250 meters away from the two facilities is a fault known as the Urazoko fault, and the team wanted to know if the nuclear reactors and the faults under it would move if the Urazoko fault moved.

Because of the age of one of the faults under reactor No. 2, the investigation crew does suspect there is a possibility the whole safety of the nuclear reactor could be compromised if the nearby Urazoko fault interacted with the other fault.

Let's play a game - whose fault is it anyways?

The whole freaking country feels earthquakes several times a day... and volcanoes and tsunami, too. Holy crap! Japan is a deadly place. And... I heard there was a Godzilla sighting last week.

Okay... better safe than sorry, right?

But why is it only NOW that the Japanese geological team is stating this? This should have been done bloody years ago.

According to Japanese guidelines and the construction of nuclear facilities, building a facility over an area where there is an active fault, is a no-no.

Apparently Reactor No. 2 of the Tsuruga plant sits directly above the 100,000-year-young fault, and if the results of the team are accepted (and why wouldn't they?), it would mean the No. 2 reactor would have to be scrapped.

At this time the Tsuruga plant has been off-line as the reactor has undergone rigorous safety checks. The facility's seismic testing is part of that, but it makes ME wonder why this wasn't the first damn thing you would check.

If the foundation is rotten, there's no need to check the rest of the house!

The Tsuruga facility is operated by the Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPCO). Currently, there are two reactors on the base, though prior to March 11, 2011, an additional two reactors where planned.

However, even before the nuclear energy disaster that befuddled Japan in 2011, plans to build the two facilities were put on hold owing to other seismic fault concerns.

 At this time, 48 of Japan's 50 nuclear power generating facilities are off-line. 

Andrew Joseph
The photo of the Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant was taken by Hirorinmasa on July 20, 2009.

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