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Quake risk seen at Rokkasho nuclear fuel reprocessing plant

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© 2012 AFP

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My point of view:

Japan is literally littered with fault lines ... some small, and some bigger than others. Which may be a problem depending on the epicenter and strength of the earthquake.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

How soon can they close this? How scary!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

So if it was 10km away from fault, or even 50km away, this woldn't be news? Looks like more scaremongering, as the most violent shaking is not always on the fault lines. What exactly are they trying to say here?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Oh, gawd! The whole country sits on the edge of a tectonic plate and has a history large quakes and tsunamis, therefore, every reactor and spent fuel dump in the country is at high risk for earthquakes, desho?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Active faults are those that, among other things, have moved within the past 120,000-130,000 years

Interesting they say this again... General rules are that any important structure not be built on areas that have moved within 100k years, not just nuclear plants. I wonder how many oil refineries, gas storage units, and chlorine tanks are sitting ontop of "active" faults. But geologically speaking, active faults are those that haven't moved in 35k years, not four times that.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Interesting they say this again... General rules are that any important structure not be built on areas that have moved within 100k years, not just nuclear plants

Whose rules? Citation?

What areas have not moved in 100,000 years? That sounds like a fanciful requirement.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

JT keep on reporting Nuke Power Plants sitting on FAULT lines. These Nuke Power Plants had been sitting there all the time. Japanese can be thankful for the 3/11 disaster accompanied by the bad habits and poor safety security by TEPCO. Those other Nuke Power Plants just waiting for another melt down are now exposed one by one. I do hope to read JT reporting about what the Nuke Power Companies interventions to avoid another melt down. Reporting probable disaster is fine but then, WHAT...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It may not be a laughing matter (far from it!), but every time I see a new article like this, it makes me laugh nonetheless.

It is as if they suddenly realised one by one that all those nuclear facilities are sitting on active fault lines and are at risk. Well, considering that this is one of the seismically most active countries, this should hardly come as a surprise.

What's interesting is that nobody seemed to care about this or would have thought it particularly newsworthy before 3/11.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@rowiko68

There were in fact many scientists and local groups that for a long time was trying to bring these issues to the attention of power companies and government agencies who all chose to do nothing, except for token safety measures..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

NessieDec. 20, 2012 - 11:14AM JST

What areas have not moved in 100,000 years? That sounds like a fanciful requirement.

Most places in the world haven't moved in that long, certainly many in Japan. There's only about 300 known "active" faults, and quite a few more that have too little data or known to be inactive. You can get a decent view at: http://riodb02.ibase.aist.go.jp/activefault/cgi-bin/search_e.cgi?search_no=e002&versioin_no=1&search_mode=0 . From what you can see there, there's almost no known faults in the area, and the closet one is over 20km away (with an expected magnitude in the 7-7.5 range), and nothing known to be anywhere close to the plant. Sure they could have missed it the first, second, or third time around, but missing a 100km north-south fault when they have data on even 5km faults seems a bit odd.

Even so, 100k years is a random number chosen by lazy politicians that wanted to ignore actual science in favor of pass/fail criteria based on "activity" that doesn't actually predict risk. Hell, some geologists in Japan even use 1000-10000, or even 700k to 1 million years ago in their definitions, and theoretically any fault poses some risk of activating or chance it'll never move again. Note that fault movement and earthquake propagation are very separate things, since you can have shaking in areas without "active" faults due to far-away quakes.

http://www.iitk.ac.in/nicee/wcee/article/8_vol2_629.pdf

That introduction is quite concise, and explains why a lot of places (wrongfully) use 100k years and completely ignore the actual risks. Also helps explain why any heavily engineered building should be just as strict as nuclear plants, especially when they are in heavily populated areas like dams, gas storage and chlorine tanks are, (and that some places do take quake risks seriously, even if they do it unscientifically) .

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

@basroil

Most places in the world haven't moved in that long, certainly many in Japan

Large parts of Japan subsided after the 2011 earthquake, so much that they had to recalibrate the Japanese system of determining elevations. The problem is, "moved" is a lazy word. The ground is always moving.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@basroil

I forgot to thank you for the link; thank you.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Many of us mentioned this after 3/11, this would make Dai Ichi, a series of ongoing Level 7 catastrophes look like a mere chip-pan fire.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

NessieDec. 20, 2012 - 03:54PM JST

Large parts of Japan subsided after the 2011 earthquake, so much that they had to recalibrate the Japanese system of determining elevations. The problem is, "moved" is a lazy word. The ground is always moving

Yes, moved isn't the greatest word to use, but this is a non-technical forum. I think we should probably assume moving to be localized velocity vector differences between two sides of a fault, rather than the overall velocity vector average of a large area. In the case of faults , moving abruptly indicates "activity" at a certain point in time, which is the only thing that really matters for lawmakers (as opposed to the direction, frequency, and strength of the movements). But as you correctly stated, they are constantly moving in all three directions (and possibly 5 degrees for certain fault types).

Most of Japan's quakes (and fault movements) are in the ocean, while most of the active (moved at least once in the last 35k years) faults are in the mountains. The only faults you normally find in the valley areas and coastlines are fairly old ones that haven't had recorded movements. I personally would be more afraid of the dozens in the Kobe/Osaka area which go off every 500-1000 years with M8 strength than a one in a hundred thousand year quake that might be M8 and is in a nearly uninhabited corner of Japan.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

They will need to fix the glitch so they can become nuclear war head armed.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Not exactly a glitch. Besides, they've got too way much end-product already, JapanGal.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

experts warned Wednesday.

Expert warned, maybe a Wednesday, before the plant existed. I remember signing so many petitions against it. And the damages are potentially greater than for a plant like Fukushima.

Operator Japan Nuclear Fuel said last month it would conduct more research on the fault, but a spokesman said the purpose is to back up its claim that the seismic fault is not active.

As usual.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Given the seismic nature of the forces that created what is now known as Japan, I'm not surprised at all that there is an active fault under the reprocessing plant. Faults generally don't run straight down from the surface. One fault can sit under hundreds of square kilometers of property on the surface. I would go so far as to say that in Japan, the odds of a building NOT sitting over an active fault are lower than one sitting over an active fault.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The whole country is sitting on shaky grounds.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Problem is that with the new government in place, nobody will ever listen ti such professional advise until the next earthquake and/or tsunami calamity. Then you will hear statements saying 'nobody knew that the extent of the earthquake would be .........

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

So these container trucks be roaming all over Japan?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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