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Seam Beneath Japan's Ohi Nuke Plant Not Active Fault, Says Operator

The Kansai Electric Power Company, operator of Japan's only online nuclear power plant, says there is no active fault beneath its Ohi facility as feared earlier.

The company submitted an interim report on the 900 meter-long seam beneath the plant to Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) on Wednesday.

The report said the fissure was not an active fault. The finding was the same when the company carried out an inspection before the March 11, 2011 devastating earthquake that knocked out the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan's northeast, sending out radioactive substances in the atmosphere and the ocean. Kansai's finding was approved by the government at that time.

Japan's nuclear watchdog, NRA will conduct its own survey of the Ohi nuclear plant on Friday, Japanese media reported.

Government guidelines prohibit construction of important facilities of nuclear power plants above active faults.

NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka had indicated earlier that the Authority would order shutting down the Ohi plant if the underground seam was found to be an active fault.

NRA has also expressed its intention to expand the definition of an active fault. The current guidelines define it as a ground displacement that occurred during the last 120,000 to 130,000 years. The Authority says the time frame should be broadened to 400,000 years.

Meanwhile, the NRA apologized for releasing misleading information on predicted nuclear fallout based on simulated disasters at six of Japan's nuclear power plants.

The apology follows publication of the results of the Authority's simulation into the possible effects of nuclear disasters at each of Japan's 16 nuclear power plants. In six of those cases, the published results were wrong due to data input errors, NRA said in a statement.

The statement said information published pertaining to the direction of the dispersal of radiation in the wake of meltdowns at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa (Niigata), Shika (Ishikawa), Tsuruga (Fukui), Genkai (Saga), Sendai (Kagoshima) and the Tokai Daini plant (Ibaraki) was incorrect.

According to the amended data, a nuclear disaster at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant is predicted to result in radiation exceeding 100 millisieverts reaching areas as far east as Nagaoka in Niigata Prefecture, about 40 kilometers away. The new simulation exceeds the 30-kilometer radius evacuation zone guidelines currently being drawn up by the Authority.

NRA has announced plans to propose disaster-mitigation guidelines including a recommendation that a 30-kilometer emergency zones be established near nuclear facilities. Nuclear safety campaigners are now urging local governments to widen these emergency zones in the wake of NRA releasing the new data.

"We apologize for any confusion caused to local governments by the erroneous data," NRA said in a statement.

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