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Nuclear watchdog head defends Ikata assessment

The head of Japan’s nuclear watchdog has stressed that the screening of a reactor at the Ikata nuclear plant in western Japan was carried out appropriately.

 

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, or NRA, commented on a court ruling that ordered the suspension of the No.3 reactor.

 

The Hiroshima High Court on Friday issued the injunction to halt the reactor in Ehime Prefecture. The court said the reactor poses a danger to nearby residents in the event of earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.

 

It said that the presence of an active fault near the plant cannot be ruled out.

 

It also said the NRA underestimates the impact of the ash that would fall on the plant in the event of a massive eruption of Mount Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture, located about 130 kilometers away.

 

In the news conference on Wednesday, Fuketa said he has no intention of interfering with the court’s decision.

 

But regarding the possibility that there is an active fault near the plant, he said the NRA studied the ground data the court referred to and concluded that a fault would not affect the reactor’s quake-resistance.

 

Fuketa also said he believes the NRA did not underestimate the impact of volcanic ash.

 

He said the NRA screening confirmed that the emergency cooling system could keep the reactor safe even if the amount of volcanic ash exceeds the predicted fallout.

The No.3 reactor is currently offline for a regular inspection.

 

But due to the court ruling, it is likely to remain suspended even after April, when the inspection is due to be completed.

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