NRA Expands Active Fault Definition, Orders More Reactors Examined

Japan’s new nuclear regulatory agency has adopted a larger view of active fault lines to anything that has shifted in the last 400,000 years. Japan Times reports this will by put into new laws that go into effect next July. It is not clear if this new standard will be imposed on the Oi nuclear plant now or in July.

Previously  the team of geologic experts and NRA staff were split on Oi’s fault under the plant being active or not. The 400,000 year definition would put it in the active category. NRA has not made any declaration on Oi but did confirm any reactor with a “black” or “dark grey” probability of being active would be shut down.

The team will now move on to do the same inspections at Tsuruga, Mihama, Monju, Shika and Higashidori nuclear plants. Certain US government agency and private sector representatives have been pressuring Japan to continue its nuclear program in spite of the disaster at Fukushima and the new findings of risk at other plants around Japan.

One specific reactor this group of US people were urging to keep open was the Monju fast breeder reactor. The reactor is an experimental project that has been plagued with expensive problems and has never worked properly for any extended period of time. The US does not possess a fast breeder reactor anymore after Congress cut funding considering it to be a financial waste of money. Uranium would have to be $165 per pound for the technology to be commercially viable and the reactor design actually creates more plutonium making it a considerable proliferation risk. Uranium currently hovers around $50 per pound.

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