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Japan To Extend Nuke Plant Evacuation Zone To 30 Km

Japan's nuclear regulator has unveiled projections for the spread of radiation from nuclear power plants across the country in the event of an accident like the one last year at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

The country's Nuclear Regulation Authority says severe accidents at four of the 16 nuclear power stations examined could result in widespread contamination beyond a 30-kilometer radius of the plants, and exceeding an international benchmark for evacuation.

It proposed raising the extent of the evacuation zone around the country's nuclear plants from a 10-kilometer radius to 30 kilometers, Japanese media reported.

The projections released on Wednesday visualize an event equivalent to the Fukushima accident, with a one-time massive release of radioactive substances from each plant. Assumptions include weather patterns recorded over the past year.

The projections show locations where effective doses of radiation in the first seven days would reach 100 millisieverts, the international benchmark for evacuation.

At 12 plants, including the Tomari plant in Hokkaido and the Ikata plant in Ehime prefecture, these locations were all within the 30-kilometer radius. Locations with 100 millisieverts of radiation showed up outside the 30-kilometer radius of four plants.

At the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata prefecture, which has seven nuclear reactors, high-level radiation locations were projected in Uonuma city, about 40.2 kilometers from the plant.

The other three plants examined are the Fukushima Daini in Fukushima prefecture, the Ohi plant in Fukui prefecture and the Hamaoka plant in Shizuoka prefecture.

The projections are expected to serve as a reference for municipalities compiling evacuation plans for their residents by the end of next March.

The nuclear watchdog says the projections do not take into account the geological features of areas surrounding the plants and should therefore be viewed as rough estimates only.

The Authority looked into the fact that many elderly and hospitalized patients died in the course of evacuation after last year's Fukushima accident.

Its draft guidelines call for deciding evacuation shelters in advance and setting up temporary shelters for those who cannot move far away.
The Authority plans to complete the guidelines before the month-end.

The guideline will form the basis of disaster plans to be made by the end of next March by 135 municipalities in 21 prefectures that lie within 30 kilometers of a nuclear plant.

The Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011 sent radioactive materials into the ocean and atmosphere, contaminated the food and water supply, and forced the evacuation of 160,000 residents from a 30-kilometer radius of the tsunami-wrecked power plant in Japan's north-east.

by RTT Staff Writer

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