'Japan plant designers did not foresee strong quake'

An earthquake last month that forced the closure of the world's largest nuclear plant in Japan was about 2.7 times stronger than the maximum considered in the plant's design guidelines, a report said Sunday.

'Japan plant designers did not foresee strong quake'
An earthquake last month that forced the closure of the world's largest nuclear plant in Japan was about 2.7 times stronger than the maximum considered in the plant's design guidelines, a report said Sunday.


The Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), which operates the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, registered the July 16 quake at 993 gals, the Mainichi Shimbun reported. Gal is a unit measuring the speed of acceleration.

The government's guidelines for the design of nuclear power plants only envisioned quakes of up to 370 gals, the report said, adding eight of the country's 17 plants were built based on that estimate.

Experts are now calling for a review of the guidelines in the wake of last month's 6.8-magnitude quake in central Japan, which shut down the plant, which supplies 10 percent of TEPCO's electricity.

The giant facility northwest of Tokyo caught fire and leaked a small amount of radiation following the quake, which killed 11 people in unrelated incidents.

Japanese nuclear authorities expect the plant to be offline for about a year for safety checks, although the UN International Atomic Energy Agency said last week the plant had no major safety problems.

Despite its propensity for earthquakes, Japan relies on nuclear plants for nearly one-third of its power needs as it has virtually no natural energy resources.

The company and government have already acknowledged that they never anticipated that such a strong quake would hit the area near the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.


AFP
Last Mod: 26 Ağustos 2007, 11:39
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