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2012年10月26日 (金)

放射能拡散予測 原発で最悪の事故防ぐ一助に

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Oct. 26, 2012)
N-disaster simulations should help prevent the worst from occurring
放射能拡散予測 原発で最悪の事故防ぐ一助に(10月25日付・読売社説)

How might radioactive substances spread from the nation's 16 nuclear power plants should they be hit by serious accidents? The Nuclear Regulation Authority on Wednesday released maps based on its diffusion simulation results.

The government has refrained from conducting this kind of simulation on its own for fear of heightening anxiety among residents around the plants.

However, it is surely necessary to simulate worst-case scenarios in the course of preparing disaster management measures.

Local governments around these facilities have to compile disaster management plans by March next year. They should refer to the new data as they make steady efforts on those plans.

The NRA regards its simulations only as rough estimates because geographical features were not taken into account and the data did not reflect the constantly changing direction of the wind.

The NRA should provide the affected local governments with detailed explanations of the simulations to minimize uncertainty among residents. We urge the organization to help those municipalities in compiling their plans.

However, there is cause for concern regarding the simulation results for four facilities, including Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture and Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Oi plant in Fukui Prefecture.


30-km standard is reasonable

The NRA has said it will designate a 30-kilometer-radius zone around each plant as a priority area under the new disaster management guidelines it is now drafting. Governments in these areas will be urged to take safety measures to be prepared for an emergency.

However, the simulations showed that there could be some areas more than 30 kilometers from the plants where accumulated radiation readings could reach 100 millisieverts--the level at which international standards consider it necessary for residents to evacuate--in seven days. According to the results for the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, for example, such high levels of radioactive substances could reach as far as Uonuma, about 40 kilometers away.

"It's good enough to designate the 30-kilometer-radius zones as priority areas," NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said during a press conference Wednesday. "In case of an accident, areas beyond the zones should respond to it by measuring [levels of radiation in their areas]."

We believe his approach is reasonable to avoid unnecessary confusion.

Nonetheless, it is up to local governments to decide how to respond to a disaster. If prefectural and other local governments wish to expand the scope of priority areas, they would have to make arrangements beyond prefectural borders--such as how to evacuate residents, deliver necessary goods and secure enough shelters. It will be necessary for the central government to support coordination among local governments involved.


NRA should refine its projections

Regarding its skill at predicting the diffusion of radioactive substances from nuclear power plants, the NRA should aim at enhancing efficiency.

A more refined level of simulations could help local governments prepare better disaster management measures, as well as plans on how to evacuate residents safely following the outbreak of an accident.

First and foremost, it is important to prevent such a serious nuclear accident from taking place.

Nuclear power plants nationwide have already implemented emergency safety measures, such as increasing their capacity to withstand tsunami and securing more reliable sources of emergency power.

As a result, safety at these facilities is better now than it was prior to the outbreak of the accident at TEPCO's Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant after the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami.

They have also started other measures, including investigations to find out if there are any active faults near plant premises.

The NRA has been working on new safety standards for nuclear power plants. It should compile them as soon as possible so they can be used in making decisions on whether idle nuclear reactors can be reactivated.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 25, 2012)
(2012年10月25日02時03分  読売新聞)


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