You are here

Oil threatens cooling system of 15 reactors at Wasaka Bay

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(January 24, 1997) On January 2, the Russian 13,157-ton oil tanker Nakhoka sank in stormy weather in the Sea of Japan. It was carrying 133,000 barrels of oil, a still unknown amount of which was set free, polluting 285 miles of the Japanese coastline.

(465.4615) WISE Amsterdam - The oil was also approaching Wasaka Bay, where 15 nuclear reactors are situated. The cooling systems of these reactors depend on seawater. The water is sucked in by pipes lying about five meter under water. Still, as the oil gets thicker, it sinks gradually and can clog the pipes. Oil fences were erected, but a shutdown of the reactors was not considered: "If the oil enters the coolant pipes it could lower the cooling effect, but it is unlikely that a large amount of oil would enter the system," a spokesperson of Kansai Electric Power Co., which operates 11 of the 15 reactors, said.

On January 11, oil slicks were as close as three kilometers to Wasaka Bay, alerting the Japanese maritime agency. "About 10 ships spent Sunday gathering oil clumps that had gathered at the oil fences surrounding Wasaka Bay," an agency official told reporters. Finally the measures were successful and no oil reached the pipes.

Source: Reuter, 10, 11 & 12 January 1997
Contact: WISE-Tokyo