Saturday, February 2, 2013

(Anything Goes Series -3) "Danger of Active Faults Is Baseless Rumor", Says Tokyo University Geologist

The others chime in, and say, basically, "Let's coexist with nuclear power plants that sit on top of active faults."

Very interestingly, the pro-nuclear Sankei Shinbun's article echoes the open letter by the US Energy and Commerce Commission to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with its curious emphasis on "performance-based" policy.

The article by Sankei Shinbun quotes a physicist, a nuclear engineer, and an marine geologist among others who say the Nuclear Regulatory Authority's new safety regulation proposal is not based on science but is pure fiction.

I'm afraid the entire country of Japan is pure fiction at this point.

Sankei's article starts with a very tricky headline as if it were the NRA who says it is possible (for nuclear power plants) to coexist with active faults. It is not, but unless you actually read the article, Sankei readers wouldn't know that.

From Sankei Shinbun via Yahoo Japan (1/30/2013; part; my comments in square brackets in blue italic):

地震・津波原発の新安全基準骨子案 「活断層との共生可能」

Proposed new safety standard outline for nuclear power plants in the event of earthquake/tsunami "It is possible to coexist with active faults"


Fearful of regulation without scientific basis


On January 29, the Nuclear Regulatory Authority announced its outline proposal for new safety standard for nuclear power plants in the event of earthquake and/or tsunami. The new standard would prohibit the installation of important facilities on top of active faults, but there are people who think it is possible to coexist with active fault with anti-seismic design in the country where there are about 2,000 active faults. Scientists are trying to restore the trust in science and technology which was lost [in the wake of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident], but at the same time they are worried that with too much emphasis on safety the regulations without scientific basis will go unchallenged.

[Go unchallenged? OK, who are those scientists?]


In a symposium held in Tokyo on January 25, former Minister of Education and [nuclear] physicist Akito Arima cited Tohoku Electric Power's Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant (in Miyagi Prefecture) and TEPCO's Fukushima II (Daini) Nuclear Power Plant (in Fukushima Prefecture) as having survived the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and said, "Even if there is an active fault, all we need to do is do R&D to maintain safety."

[Well said, Dr. Arima, but nuclear physics doesn't address how to construct buildings on top of an active fault, does it?]


Professor Koji Okamoto of Tokyo University (nuclear reactor engineering) says, "What's more important is not whether it is an active fault, but whether there is a risk of radioactive leak. But there is no discussion [of the latter]." He concluded, "The discussion at the NRA is not science. It is a world of fiction."

[So, a nuclear reactor engineer calling the discussion by the top seismologists and geologists a fiction. That makes sense. Not.]


Professor Haruo Yamazaki of Tokyo Metropolitan University (seismogeology) points out, "Danger of active fault is a baseless rumor, and it is used as a pretext in opposing nuclear power plants."

[Baseless rumor.]

This newspaper is incredible for its choice of words like "go unchallenged", as if the NRA trying to be on the conservative side of science were the bullies punishing the industry for no good scientific reason.

The article continues, saying that the definition of active faults has changed over time - from 50,000 year-old faults to 120,000 to 130,000, and now to 400,000-year-old faults - and the new benchmark of "400,000 years" is "meaningless", quoting a marine geologist. (A marine geologist should know very well about land geology, shouldn't he?)

Right on cue, a faction of the ruling Liberal Democratic Parties has started to make noise about the commissioners of Nuclear Regulatory Authority, who have been installed without the consent from the National Diet by then-Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. They say they have doubts about these commissioners because of their extremely strict conditions for the restart of a nuclear power plant, and particularly because of their opinion that Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant (that sits on active faults) has to be decommissioned.

LDP has already bullied Bank of Japan into submission (whatever Governor Shirakawa says now to defend himself as "independent" is ludicrous). Nuclear Regulatory Authority next?


Anonymous said...

Excellent expose EX SKF! Why is anyone who knows how Japan really works not surprised to hear about this latest attack from the Cult of Nuclearists, as Paul Zimmerman accurately refers to them in his book, A Primer in the Art of Deception. Obviously fraudulent science is at work here as money and politics corrupts the political process (as Plato said, democracy leads to tyranny). See also: Bending Science by McGarity and Wagner (Harvard Univ press).

Anyway, I was wondering when the other shoe would drop. In my latest article which is an angry (fact filled) rant against the corrupt nuclear politics in Japan

Japan’s Wrong Political Course: Public Docility Versus Nuclear Magnates

I wrote: "There is some hopeful news. Although Japan’s newly created Nuclear Regulation Authority is mainly made up of the same old bureaucrats that staffed previous nuke agencies, they may have learned some lessons and are proposing that science and safety, not politics, should dictate Japan’s nuclear future (17; 18; 19). Let’s hope they can force through tough reforms to the broken system."

So much for safety over insanity.

By the way, folks might find this very well researched blog to be very interesting, on the history of nuclear energy in the US:

”more than any other individual, Lewis Strauss shaped the atomic energy policy of the United States…

Lewis Strauss and JFK, part II

Anonymous said...

Even if all nuke plants in Japan could operate for the next century without seismic damage, Japan would continue to fill up with nuclear waste with no permanent storage solution. With or without earthquakes, this is enough reason to stop the madness.

Anonymous said...


Good eye EXSKF!

And why the heck was a nuclear physicist in charge of the Education Ministry?

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

RJ, Ministry of Education has always been in charge of nuclear technology. The Science and Technology Agency was created under the Ministry of Education in the 1950s to promote nuclear energy in Japan. The first director general of the agency was Matsutaro Shoriki, who was the owner of Yomiuri Shinbun and Nippon Television, with some illustrious career in pre-war Japan.

Anonymous said...

This country's politicians are starting to sound and act like the Nazi party. Extremely worrying.

Anonymous said...

Disagree with the ruling elite? You must be suffering from 'baseless rumours'.

Anonymous said...

Storage problems solved!
Plans are underway to store Japan nuclear waste in Mongolia. Then there are those Ogasawara Islands.......

Anonymous said...

Senkaku Islands? Nobody lives there...

I actually prefer, if we must have nuclear waste, North East Hokkaido as its as far away as possible, cold as hell, next to disputed islands with Russia, underpopulated ec etc...its also very beautiful and full of wildlife/nature-so..I retract that and suggest if its so safe then it should be in Shibuya or some other Tokyo ward.

Anonymous said...

If you want nuclear power; live with the risks. (probably risks are 'baseless rumours' so lets pretend it is safe as houses).
Mmm votewinner...

JAnonymous said...

I so wish, that nuclear researchers read this blog. They would know by now, how to secure a nuclear reactor on top of ANY kind of fault, weather hazard, airplane crash, armageddon, or whatever.

It was already written here (, Austrian scientists (or was it citizens?) have desigend a zero-risk operation protocol for their nuclear plant. It is the same solution that is begind pushed in france by the "Nuclear Watchdog NPO". It is called noop.

It still makes the nuclear plants useful, because it keeps the construction workers busy, allows to spend a lot of money with your nuclear friends, and acts as a deterrent to invaders : if you invade Japan, we will turn them all ON ! (scared).

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