Japan to publish daily data on nuclear plants after quakes

Tokyo, April 20 (IANS) Japan’s nuclear regulator disseminates detailed updates on the state of nuclear power plants located in the southwest of the country, an area hit by two strong earthquakes recently, after facing criticism for its slow response and lack of transparency after the tremors.

The Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) will publish, twice daily, data on the plants and radiation levels in the areas most affected by the recent earthquakes, parameters for which so far have been normal, Efe news quoted NRA spokesperson as saying.

The NRA was criticised for its lack of speed and transparency in reporting the effects of earthquakes on the four nuclear power plants in the southwest of the country, including Sendai (Kagoshima prefecture), Genkai (Saga), Ikata (Ehime) and Shimane, of which only the first is active with two operating reactors, (and the only one in Japan) which started functioning after meeting the new safety requirements that were approved after the Fukushima disaster.

The first of the strong earthquakes had hit the Kumamoto prefecture on Thursday night but the NRA did not report the situation in the plants until Friday morning when they were ordered to do so by the government, reported the Kyodo news agency.

The NRA has received more than 300 complaints and petitions related to information on the Sendai plant, while a group of lawyers have undertaken a legal initiative to request the deactivation of the nuclear station, the media reported.

A protest was also held on Tuesday in front of the Kantei (name given to the residence of the government head) to urge Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to abandon revival plans of nuclear power plants that meet new and stricter safety requirements.

The tremors, the worst since the earthquake that led to the devastating tsunami of March 2011, have so far left 47 dead, five missing and more than 1,000 injured, while 125,000 people remain displaced in Kumamoto and Oita prefectures.

The first of the two most powerful earthquakes of 6.5 magnitude hit the area on Thursday, while another one of 7.3 magnitude occurred on Saturday.

On March 11, 2011 Japan was hit by an earthquake of 9 magnitude and a tsunami that swept away the northeast part of the country, leaving more than 18,000 people dead and missing, and caused a nuclear catastrophe at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the worst since the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine in 1986.

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