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ECONOMY > Energy

Is Japan’s nuclear power generation sufficiently protected against terrorism?

  • August 10. 2016
  • , Tokyo Shimbun , p. 28
  • Translation

On August 2nd, the Nuclear Regulation Authority approved a plan for anti-terrorism facilities at Takahama nuclear plant no. 3 and 4. The approval for the facility, built as a countermeasure against certain serious incidents, was the first in the nation.


The facility is designed to avert a large-scale leakage of radioactive materials caused by a terrorist attack in which an airplane is intentionally crashed into a nuclear power plant. Along with the ability to continue cooling the reactor core, the facility will provide an emergency control room, backup electricity, and a water injection pump for the reactors.


Currently, anti-terrorism facilities are set to be built within five years of approval. At Takahama plants, reactor no. 3 and no. 4 will have a facility completed by August and October of 2020 respectively.


What if there is a terrorist attack before then? Tokyo Shimbun asked a senior staff member at Kansai Electric Power Co. He responded, “We cannot reply yet as we are still confirming the facts.”


There is no anti-terrorism facility at Sendai plant of Kyushu Electric Power Co., which is the sole operating nuclear plant in Japan. What happens if they are attacked today? A spokesperson at the company said, “If anything happens, we would stop the reactor and cool the nuclear fuel. If we fail, then we would stop radioactive materials from spreading by using a high pressure water cannon.” He also stressed the sturdiness of the reactor containment vessel that is expected to withstand heat from an airplane crash, as well as their cooperation with the Self-Defense Force and the police.


However, a nuclear plant architect who used to work for Toshiba Corporation says that if an airplane crashes into a nuclear plant, it is highly likely that not only the outer building would be damaged, but the reactor vessel as well. “If the plane pierced the container vessel and caused a fire, it might destroy the cooling components and the steam generator. If only one part were affected, the special anti-terrorism facility might be sufficient to deal with it, but depending on the scale and nature of the accident, it could be totally useless.” (Abridged)

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