Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

March 21, 2013

Support needed for municipalities

Local governments near nuclear power plants are facing difficulties in drawing up antidisaster plans that stipulate how and where residents should evacuate after the outbreak of a nuclear crisis.

We are seriously concerned about this problem.

Without such plans, it would be difficult for local governments to properly evacuate residents during a nuclear emergency, putting residents at risk of radiation exposure.

While 21 prefectural governments and 136 municipal governments have been asked to draw up antidisaster plans, only 70, or less than half, have completed them, according to the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

Under the NRA guidelines on nuclear disaster countermeasures, local governments were required to prepare nuclear emergency response plans within six months after the law to establish the NRA went into effect. This period ended Monday.

Although preparation of the antidisaster plans are not legal preconditions for restarting idle reactors, having feasible plans is necessary to obtain the understanding of local residents in bringing nuclear plants back online.

NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka has urged local governments to proactively compile antidisaster plans before the restart of halted nuclear plants.

He also said plans already formulated by local governments will need to be reviewed. “We’ll need to assess whether the plans really ensure safety,” he said, indicating that the NRA will not leave the plans to the discretion of local governments.

Considering the importance of antidisaster plans in nuclear emergencies, we believe the NRA’s stance is appropriate.

The NRA needs to avidly support the local governments’ efforts in drawing up the plans, including securing the cooperation of government ministries and agencies related to disaster prevention if necessary.

Local governments near nuclear plants are drawing up the plans based on NRA guidelines that incorporated lessons learned from the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The old guidelines, which were formulated before the disaster, did not anticipate a serious disaster at nuclear power facilities, and in retrospect did not reflect reality.

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