On July 7, Japan has generated its first nuclear electricity in two months when the Ohi-3 reactor began supplying power to the grid after it has been officially restarted on July 1. The restart of Ohi-4 is expected in July too. The Ohi-3 restart has been accompanied by the most massive protests Japan has seen since the 1960s: not only in Ohi but nationwide hundreds of thousands of people gathered.
On Friday June 29, more than 150.000 people gathered in front of Noda’s residence in Tokyo. A week later on Friday, July 6, again 100.000 demonstrators took the streets. The Friday demonstrations have been organized by the Metropo-litan Coalition against Nukes, which has been active since March 2012. At first the demonstration gathered a few hundred people but after the decision to restart the Ohi reactors, on June 22, 45.000 people gathered. Hundreds of people tried to block the entrance to the reactors in Ohi and stop workers from entering the power plant. On July 29, several groups organize a human chain at the Diet building. International solidarity is called for.
The restart at Ohi has not gone smoothly. As if the people living close to nuclear reactors in Japan aren't worried enough, "more than two dozen alarms rang out at the plant. That came after three days after a separate alarm was triggered midweek". Fortunately, those alarms were false and caused by "unstable atmospheric conditions, such as a dense fog". Attempts to reassure concerned people have failed at the outset.
This follows warnings just last week from Mitsuhisa Watanabe, tectonic geomorphologist at Toyo University, and Katsuhiko Ishibashi, seismologist and professor emeritus at Kobe University. Using Ohi operator Kansai Electric Power Co s (KEPCO) own published seis-mic data, the scientists have found that the reactors sit on geological faults that could produce much larger earthquakes than KEPCO has previously admitted. In 2005, Ishibashi predicted an earthquake could cause a nuclear disaster. In March 2011, he was proved terribly right.
After being shown in such blunt terms that their government is not listening to them, concerned citizens are now resorting to legal means to try to stop the Ohi reactors.
The case of two groups, Green Action and Mihama-no-Kai (Osaka Citizens Against the Mihama, Ohi and Taka-hama Nuclear Power Plants), before a Japanese court concludes July 9, with a decision expected within two weeks.
The groups cite errors in the guidelines for reactor design safety criteria, the three active earthquake faults near the Ohi plant and the need to re-examine the fault under the plant. They also raise concerns that ageing piping at Ohi could be damaged by an earthquake, based on the suspicion that important equipment at the Fukushima reactors was damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and not by the subsequent tsunami.
Sources: Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes / World Nuclear News, 5 July 2012 / Justin McKeating, Greenpeace Blog 6 July 2012 / Asahi Shimbin, 6 July 2012
Contact: Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes