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Fault under Japanese nuclear power plant

Japan’s only working nuclear power plant sits on what may be a seismic fault in the earth’s crust, a geologist has warned, saying it is “very silly” to allow it to continue operating.

It is an active fault

Mitsuhisa Watanabe says the earth’s plates could move under the Oi nuclear plant in western Japan, causing a catastrophe to rival last year’s atomic disaster at Fukushima – although some of his colleagues on a nuclear advisory panel disagree.

“It is an active fault. The plates shifted some 120,000 to 130,000 years ago for sure,” Watanabe, of Tokyo’s Toyo University, said.

“In research that I have conducted on active faults in Japan and overseas, structures built above them were all damaged” when they moved and caused an earthquake, he said.

Watanabe, a tectonic geomorphologist, is part of a five-member team tasked by the Nuclear Regulation Authority with looking into the tectonic situation underneath the plant, which houses the country’s only working reactors.

Atomic installations cannot be sited on a fault – the meeting place of two or more of the plates that make up the earth’s crust – if it is still classed as active.

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