Japan’s defenses against a major tsunami and the safety of its nuclear plants were thrown into further doubt after two official studies predicted much higher waves could hit and that Tokyo quake damage could be bigger than it was prepared for.
The reports, carried in the media over the weekend, are likely to intensify the debate about whether to restart Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors, all but one of which are shut amid public fears about nuclear safety sparked by the Fukushima disaster in March 2011.
One report said a quake as big as the one that rocked Japan in 2011 could trigger waves topping 34 meters (112 feet), almost double its previous estimate made in 2003 when its worst scenario forecast tsunami of no more than 20 meters (66 feet).
The Cabinet Office panel which authored the report, revised its predictions after one of the biggest tremors on record struck Japan last year, setting off a tsunami that topped 20 meters in the worst-affected areas and triggering the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.
“We won’t be able to contain a massive tsunami with the (current) embankments,” said Masaharu Nakagawa, disaster prevention minister on a news conference on Saturday evening.
“We will have to work the (changes regarding) the city planning, disaster prevention education and evacuation into the policies,” he said.
Waves at the now off-line Hamaoka nuclear plant in Shizuoka prefecture, operated by Chubu Electric Power, could reach 21 meters, breaching the 18-metre breakwater that the operators are currently building, the report said.
The government is keen to get some of the reactors running after surging fuels imports resulted in a rare trade deficit, raising worries about its declining ability to fund a huge public debt with domestic savings. But it must first persuade wary locals that the plants are safe.
Filed Under: EARTH CHANGES
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