11,000 protestors gathered outside Prime Minister Noda’s official residence last night to oppose the restart of the Ohi nuclear reactors in Fukui prefecture.
However, none of this was broadcast on Japanese TV. [Source: Fukushima Voice]
And today in direct defiance of massive domestic opposition, Prime Minister Noda gave the go-ahead for the reactors to be restarted.
Activists have collected more than 7.5 million signatures on a petition urging an end to atomic power. Protesters have poured into the street almost daily over the past week. [Source: Reuters]
A Mainichi newspaper poll recently showed that 71 percent of the Japanese population are against the nuclear restarts. And in direct contradiction of PM Noda’s claims that the restarts are necessary for Japanese business, a Reuters Tankan poll has revealed that 72 percent of Japanese firms also want no early restart before safety can be guaranteed. Already there is speculation that this decision by the already unpopular Noda, “could undermine his political support and force early elections. ” [Source: Bloomberg]
Eric Johnston, editor of the upcoming Kyoto Journal publication “Fresh Currents“, wrote earlier today:
Attention is now turning to whether or not the Ikata nuclear reactor, on the island of Shikoku, will be the next to restart. The opposition to the Ikata restart is nowhere near as strong, so if I were a betting man, I’d put my money on an Ikata restart fairly soon.
Again, Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University’s Japan campus says,
I imagine there will be a fair number of (reactor) restarts by next year. The government under Noda is surprisingly eager. [Source: Reuters]
“Independent studies show that there will be no power shortages (1), yet Prime Minister Noda and Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO) are recklessly rushing to bring the reactors back online now, saying they meet its lax safety requirements,” said Wakao Hanaoka, Greenpeace Japan Campaign Manager. “The nuclear industry and the Government were totally unprepared for the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi, and now they are trying to pretend they can call Ohi safe without improving safety or emergency measures. This is unbelievable.” [Source: Greenpeace International]
Meanwhile, Green Action Japan has received a worrying statement from Professor Mitsuhiko Watanabe of Toyo University, Tokyo regarding ongoing safety issues at the Ohi reactors. I have posted the full statement at the end of this post** but his conclusion makes it clear that the active fault lines in the area of the Ohi reactors are a major concern. Professor Watanabe states:
I am not against the use of nuclear power. However, at present, the evaluation of active faults in the vicinity of nuclear facilities is clearly mistaken. I have pointed out that underestimation has been rampant, and have called attention to the fact that, due to erroneous assessments, the assumption concerning the degree of ground motion has been under-estimated, and, damage that can result from dislocation along active faults has been ignored.
With respect to the active faults around the Ohi Nuclear Power Plant, there is no doubt that the issues mentioned above remain to be examined. If it can be confirmed that the F-6 is not an active fault, and that seismic safety is ensured even if it is assumed that there is linkage from the Fo-A fault to the Kumagawa fault, I would have no opposition to the resumption of the operation of the Ohi nuclear power plant. However, at this stage, I believe those who want to give the green light to the restart of these reactors should not propound indirect arguments, but rather should state clearly, “Safety is not secured, but we are allowing restart for various other reasons.”
Despite today’s setback, it is clear when we consider our dangerous situation, giving up the fight against the nuclear industry in Japan is not an option. In yesterday’s Asahi Shimbun, Ryuichi Sakamoto wrote:
I am concerned that a sense of despair will spread among people who will give up hope of ever having their opinions heard or who will not want to become committed to politics or society because nothing will change.
It would be simply unbearable if individuals who took a stand for the first time were to become despondent, leading to the return of a society in which no one said anything… I have not yet given up. I will continue to raise my voice by staking my very existence on it. [Source: The Asahi Shimbun]
If you are concerned about these issues and wish to become involved, here are some groups working to end the nuclear lobby’s energy monopoly in Japan:
* Note: International Opposition to Restarting the Ohi Reactors
The restarting of the nuclear reactors in Fukui is not a purely domestic issue, as a nuclear disaster here has the potential to affect the entire northern hemisphere. Naturally, there has also been much international opposition to the restarts. This from Green Action Japan:
This is a partial list of international action that has taken place against Japanese nuclear power plant restart. Letters have been sent to Prime Minister Noda, and protests have been held in front of Japanese embassies/consulates. The list has been compiled by Green Action, Peace Boat, and Shut Tomari.
Senator Scott Ludlam (Australian Greens) sent a letter in protest to the Ambassador of Japan to Australia, Sato Shigekazu on June 12
Representatives of the MAPW (Medical Association for Prevention of War) and Japanese for Peace visited the Consulate General of Japan, and
presented letter against restart to Consul Chiba Hirohisa.
〉 Adelaide: Open letter sent by: Irene Gale
Letter sent in protest on June 15 by “Sortir du nucléaire”, a federation of 57,000 members and 940 associations.
〉 Currently confirming
All 53 German Green Party parliamentarians signed/all Green Party representative signed. Also additional signatures were presented
against restart. Submission was to the Japanese Embassy in Berlin, addressed to Prime Minister Noda, Fukui Governor Nishikawa.
Letter sent to Prime Minister Noda from European MP Rebecca Harms on June 12
Protest on June 15 in front of the Consulate General of Japan at the Messeturm. Protest letters addressed to the General Consul and Prime
Minister Noda directly delivered.
〉 Mumbai: Open letter sent by Sukla Sen EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity)
An appeal with 3700 signatures presented to the Japanese Embassy in Rome, as well as a press conference on June 13.
Japanese residents in Korea and the NGO Energy Justice Actions held a demonstration in front of the Japanese Embassy on June 15, 11:00
“Rethink, not Restart”
Thai activists hold placards at a protest rally against Japanese decision to restart two reactors at Ohi nuclear power plant, outside the Japanese Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday June 15, 2012.
〉 Washington DC
June 18, 12 noon
Rally in front of the Embassy of Japan, 2520 Massachusettes Avenue NW, near Dupont Circle
〉 New York City
June 15, 2pm
Rally organised by the “Manhattan Project” held in front of the Consulate General of Japan
Letters delivered for Prime Minister Noda in protest of the pending re-start of the reactors at Ohi.
〉 California, June 15
Coordinated action simultaneous with New York
〉 Oregon, June 15
Coordinated action simultaneous with New York
Action in front of the Japanese Consulate organised by the Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) www.neis.org
〉 Los Angeles
June 22, 3pm
Shut Down, Not Meltdown: Keep Japan Nuclear-Free! Public Event
Consulate-General of Japan in Los Angeles, 350 South Grand Avenue
Letters to be delivered to the Prime Minister’s representative
From 4:45 a Die-In…
**Note: Expert Warns About Earthquake Faults Under Ohi Nuclear Power Plant
Comments on “Petition and Question to the Fukui Prefectural Government and the Fukui Prefecture Expert Committee on Nuclear Safety, Concerning the Fracture Zone and Triple Linkage of Active Faults near Units 3 and
4 of the Ohi Nuclear Power Plant”
Mitsuhisa Watanabe, Professor of Sociology, Toyo University (Tokyo, Japan)
I have read the “Petition and Questions” sent to me and have found that important issues are being addressed in it. I examined the original documentation myself, including the site application and Nuclear Safety Commission’s documentation for Unit 3 and 4, and hereby comment on the following two points. I would also like to state my own opinion in conclusion.
1. Shuttered Zone F-6 (fault)
The “Sketch of the Northwest Wall” is presented in Figure 2 of the report. I point out the possibility of F-6 being an active fault due to the following reasons. First, it appears that the gravel layer considered to be covering F-6 shows the same amount of vertical offset as that of the bedrock. Also, the fact that there is “clay/silt”
composition wedged into the bedrock at the shattered zone, sandwiched in between the boundary of the bedrock and gravel layer, suggests that there was faulting after the deposition of the layer.
As for the “Sketch of the Southeast Wall,” the F-6 is covered by gravel, indicating that there has been no recent faulting. However, the strike of what is indicated here as F-6 (N18°E) is different from the general strike of F-6 (N5°W) shown in the geological map. Therefore, there is the possibility that the real F-6 is not visible in this sketch.
When we look at the site application for the installation of Unit 3 and 4, it is explicitly noted for F-6 and others that there is “clay” in the shattered zone (fault.) Because many old shattered zones (faults) are hard, the existence of soft “clay” indicates the possibility that this shattered zone (fault) has recently been active. In the case of
the activity of the shattered zones (faults) at the Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant site, I addressed the importance of this issue, and questioned the safety of the plant. My concerns turned out to be real when in April this year when Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) survey findings reported that the shattered zones (faults) under the Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant site were indeed active faults.
Taking the above into consideration, the possibility that F-6 (fault) is an active fault cannot be denied. The portion extending to the coast from F-6 is descried as “hard.” What should be examined, however, isthe activity of the fracture zone (fault) under the plant site. As is shown in Figure 1, there are a number of shattered zone (faults) under the Ohi plant which run in the same direction as F-6. If there is a possibility that F-6 is an active fault, the same thing can be said for the other shattered zones (faults). The major active faults (fault Fo-A, fault Fo-B, and the Kumagawa fault) may activate these shattered zones. Since some shattered zones (faults) are present just under the reactors, their movement would cause serious damage. As you point out, to ensure the safety of the Ohi Nuclear Power Plant, it is extremely important to verify the activity of these shattered zones.
2. Active Fault in Obama Bay
There is a typical active fault structure on the northwestward extension of the Kumagawa fault (Figure 3). Examining the report, however, it appears that no conclusion was reached regarding this extension because of the presence of gas. However, I have never seen an example of a “feigned structure” with such clear fault structure which was caused by the effects of gas. Even if there is some effect on account of gas, this does not preclude that this is not an active fault. It is unlikely that the length of the active fault shown in Figure 3 is short. The conclusion that the Kumagawa fault does not extend into Obama Bay is based on the results of seismic reflection survey and drilling of the coastal area. However, we have pointed out that these surveys are inappropriate for verifying the absence of
active faults. I therefore think it is difficult to conclude that the Kumagawa fault does not extend into Obama Bay.
The report states there is no activity on the Fo-20 fault since the Late Pleistocene, but it is difficult to affirm this with sounding exploration. For example, it was believed that there had been no recent activity in the submarine active faults that caused the 2007 Noto Peninsula earthquake. However, there is no doubt now that this was mistaken. Especially in the case of active faults that are mainly with strike-slip movement, it is impossible to deny the presence of recent activity on the basis of the results of sounding exploration. Looking at the data along the line C-45.3G, it appears that there is a structure indicating the presence of active faults at the extension of
Fo-20. From this, I conclude that it is wrong to conclude that, “the fault Fo-20 is not an active fault.”
Based on the above, there is a possibility that submarine active faults exist in Obama Bay, which would connect fault Fo-A and Fo-B to the Kumagawa fault. Therefore, as you pointed out, the possibility of their inter-connectivity with these three faults must be re-examined.
3. In Conclusion
I am not against the use of nuclear power. However, at present, the evaluation of active faults in the vicinity of nuclear facilities is clearly mistaken. I have pointed out that underestimation has been rampant, and have called attention to the fact that, due to erroneous assessments, the assumption concerning the degree of ground motion has
been under-estimated, and, damage that can result from dislocation along active faults has been ignored.
With respect to the active faults around the Ohi Nuclear Power Plant, there is no doubt that the issues mentioned above remain to be examined. If it can be confirmed that the F-6 is not an active fault, and that seismic safety is ensured even if it is assumed that there is linkage from the Fo-A fault to the Kumagawa fault, I would have no
opposition to the resumption of the operation of the Ohi nuclear power plant. However, at this stage, I believe those who want to give the green light to the restart of these reactors should not propound indirect arguments, but rather should state clearly, “Safety is not secured, but we are allowing restart for various other reasons.”