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Following the disaster at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima last year, nearly all of Japan’s reactors have been shut down. The only power plant to remain operational today is the Oi nuclear plant in western Japan.
A geologist working as part of team looking at the power plant, its location, and the geological history of the area, has now stated that the power plant is built on top of a fault line that can be described as ‘active’ (a fault line that experienced tectonic movement in the last 130,000 years), and advises that it be shut down immediately.
Mitsushisa Watanabe, a geologist on Japan’s nuclear advisory panel, said that “it is an active fault. The plates shifted some 120,000 to 130,000 years ago for sure.”
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“In research that I have conducted on active faults in Japan and overseas, structures built above them were all damaged,” due to earthquakes.
Watanabe fears that any seismic activity on this fault line could cause a catastrophe similar to the one at Fukushima; although his colleagues on the advisory panel disagree.
They believe that it is still too early to determine whether the fault is ‘active’. Kunihiko Shimazaki, the head of the advisory board, said that the geological scarring that they have noticed was probably caused by nothing more than an ancient landslide, and that more work must be done before they board can make it decision.
Watanabe does not disagree with this sentiment, but wants to see the plants reactors shut down until the decision is made, just to err on the side of caution in case the fault is determined to be ‘active’.
“We are not seeking to decommission the plant," Watanabe said. "We should first stop operation and then carry out underground investigation thoroughly before reaching a conclusion.”
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com