Volcano Becomes Active Near Japanese Nuclear Plant

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Sakurajima volcano in Southern Kyushu Island is showing signs of an eruption

Nuclear power plant
One of the most active volcanoes in Japan is showing signs of increased activity just over 30 miles away from a newly restarted nuclear power plant.

On 15 August Japan’s weather agency raised their alert level for the Sakurajima volcano from 3 to 4, the second-highest, after reports of increased seismic activity. The Sendai Nuclear power plant just 50 Kilometers away was restarted on Tuesday, following shut-down and safety overhauls in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

Last year a Japanese volcanologist refuted claims  that nuclear reactors stationed near a hotbed of volcanic activity were safe. The head of a government-commissioned panel on volcanic eruption told a press briefing “The Sendai nuclear power plant in southern Japan could quite easily be the source of a national disaster…..”

Live Mint reports:

The Japan Meteorological Agency increased the alert level for the volcano to 4 from 3, advising people within 3 kilometers of the crater to prepare to evacuate. It detected multiple earthquakes in the area on Saturday, the agency said on its website.

Kyushu Electric Power Co. began bringing online the No. 1 reactor at its Sendai power station on 11 August, the first nuclear facility to restart in Japan under new safety rules implemented following the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Nuclear power plant
Sendai power station

The area around the volcano had registered more than 800 tremors as of 2:15pm local time, according to the meteorological agency’s website. Some 77 residents were advised to evacuate, and 24 had done so as of 3:50pm., the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said in a statement.

Kyushu Electric’s Sendai plant is operating normally, a company spokeswoman said by phone Saturday, asking not to be named in accordance with the Fukuoka-based company’s policy.

Volcanic rock and ash could cut off transport routes and prompt workers at Sendai to flee the nuclear site in the event of an eruption, putting operations at risk, engineering consultant John Large wrote in a February report commissioned by Greenpeace.

Nuclear power plant
Sakurajima volcano

Japan lies on the so-called “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines surrounding the Pacific Basin, and it sits at the three-way meeting point of the North American, Eurasian and Philippine Sea tectonic plates.

Authorities ordered the complete evacuation of Kuchinoerabu island off Kyushu in May. More than 50 people, mostly hikers, were killed in an eruption at Mount Ontake in Nagano in central Japan last September.

Edmondo Burr
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