Five years after the Fukushima disaster, things are getting worse.
As we reported last week, "the fuel rods melted through their containment vessels in the reactors, and no one knows exactly where they are now. Tepco has been developing robots, which can swim under water and negotiate obstacles in damaged tunnels and piping to search for the melted fuel rods. But as soon as they get close to the reactors, the radiation destroys their wiring and renders them useless, causing long delays, Masuda said."
More troubling was our assessment that the "2011 disaster will be repeated. After the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, Japan was flooded with massive anti-nuclear protests which led to a four-year nationwide moratorium on nuclear plants. The moratorium was lifted, despite sweeping opposition, last August and nuclear plants are being restarted."
And now we have the candidate for the "next Fukushima" - as Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun reports, one of the faults that run under the premises of Hokuriku Electric Power Co.’s Shika nuclear power plant in Ishikawa Prefecture can be reasonably concluded to be active, according to an evaluation compiled last Thursday by an expert panel at the Nuclear Regulation Authority.
According to the Shimbun, the No. 1 reactor at the Shika plant may have to be decommissioned under the new nuclear regulatory standards, which ban the construction of important facilities above an active fault. The fault in question lies directly under the No. 1 reactor building.
Eight faults run under the premises of the Shika power station. Of these, three faults called S-1, S-2 and S-6 have been subject to close scrutiny. The S-1 fault lies directly under the No. 1 reactor building, a facility designated as an important facility under the new regulatory criteria.
Although stratum slippage at the S-2 and S-6 faults does not reach the surface, these faults run immediately under the Nos. 1 and 2 reactor turbine buildings. This means the No. 2 reactor cannot be reactivated unless measures are taken to reinforce its safety, such as increasing the reactor’s earthquake-resistance level and changing the layout of its piping.
This being Japan, however, where Tepco was hiding for years the full severity of the Fukushima explosion and putting millions of people in danger in the process, denial is rife and the power company has already submitted an application for a safety inspection of the No. 2 reactor, asserting that the fault is not active, based on its own investigation. No difference in levels has been discovered in other locations along the S-1 fault, according to the company. The utility also intends to file a similar application regarding the No. 1 reactor in the near future.
Because if you can't trust a Japanese nuclear utility company who can you trust.
After taking the panel’s conclusion into account, the Nuclear Regulation Authority will make a decision during safety reviews as to whether the fault in question is active. We expect its opinion will be well greased by a modest monetary exchange under the table. What is most disturbing however, is that as the Amari bribe scandal showed, in Japan even when bribes are involved the amount of money is so modest that it hardly merits putting people's lives in danger, and yet that's precisely what will happen.
On the other hand, since global central bankers have made hope into a strategy, in fact the only strategy, why should the threat of another Japanese catastrophe be exempt?