Japan Is Trying to Terror-Proof Its Recently Reopened Nuclear Reactors

By Bryan Lufkin on at

In August, Japan reopened its first nuclear reactors after an almost two-year hiatus that followed the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Now, months later, Kyushu Electric Power Co. is preparing to guard the controversial energy source against terrorist attacks, too.

Asahi Shimbun reports that Kyushu Electric Power Co. will build off-site terror response centers near the two rebooted reactors at Sendai Nuclear Power Plant in Kagoshima Prefecture on Japan’s southern tip. That’s on the opposite side of the country from where the Fukushima quake, tsunami, and resultant nuclear disaster at the Daiichi power plant unfolded—but the government had issued a nationwide nuclear shutdown following the crisis.

The £530 million emergency centres aren’t a direct response to recent terrorist attacks across the globe. Their installation is part of nuclear safety guidelines that were rolled out in 2013. They will be installed in Kagoshima first, and will then be built elsewhere in Japan.

Among other safeguards, there’ll be a control room from which staff can remotely cool reactors in case an aircraft crashes into them. The company hopes to have installation finished by 2020, the same year nearly a million foreigners will be in the country for Tokyo’s Summer Olympic Games.

Japan—one of the most quake-prone nations on Earth—has seen a lot of public opposition in the face of the government’s return to nuclear energy after the Fukushima tragedy. Problem is, the island country is largely mountainous and fairly small, so it lacks a lot of natural resources, and importing energy like natural gas is expensive. (Japan is the world’s largest importer of liquefied natural gas.)

Meanwhile, with the heightened global presence of Islamic State supporters, the Japanese government has been more concerned about facing possible terror threats in the future. Earlier this year, ISIS kidnapped and executed two Japanese journalists in Syria.

While there’s no way to truly terror-proof something, at least these steps are barriers to catastrophe.

[Asahi Shimbun]

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