A panel of scientists from Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) stated on Thursday that the just discovered fault lines found under the Higashidori nuclear plant in Aomori Prefecture are most likely active. This goes against the argument from the plant’s operator, Tohoku Electric Power Co., who claimed, to no surprise, that the facility was safe.
This is the third nuclear plant in the last few weeks that the NRA has investigated for active faults. The Higashidori facility is a slightly different situation in that the fault lines do not run directly under the reactor, but the restart of the plant anytime in the near future will face difficulty. Japanese laws prohibit the construction of nuclear facilities above fault lines, and the NRA has repeatedly stated that any of the country’s reactors, all of which but two have been idled, that are found in violation will be prohibited from restarting.
Tohoku Electric originally claimed that the geological deformations were a result of clay minerals expanding when exposed to water, not because of fault lines. The Higashidori plant currently only has one reactor, which went offline for regular checks in February 2011, only weeks before the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Prior to the March 2011 events, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the Fukushima plant, was planning to add its own reactor to Higashidori.[via MT Standard]