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Tohoku’s Atomic Plant Is on Active Fault Line, Regulator Says

Scientists working for Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority said geological fault lines are active under the Tohoku Electric Power Co.’s Higashidori nuclear plant at the northern end of the nation’s main island.

The scientists conducted an investigation at the plant in Aomori prefecture last week and reported their findings today. Earlier this month, another team of geologists appointed by the NRA said a fault is probably active under Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tsuruga No. 2 reactor at the southern end of the island.

Tohoku Electric said it has repeatedly conducted checks to confirm faults at the plant are dormant.

“We will explain with detailed data in the next meeting that fault lines at the plant are not active,” the utility said in a statement today.

Officials from Tohoku Electric were invited to the NRA to discuss the findings at a meeting on Dec. 26. All except two of Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors are closed for safety checks after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that wrecked an atomic plant in Fukushima prefecture, causing radiation leakage and mass evacuations.

“It is very hard to accept the argument that these are not active fault lines,” said Kunihiko Shimazaki, a NRA commissioner who was among the five scientists who ran the investigation at the northern plant. “If Tohoku Electric says they are not active, we would like to hear their explanation.”

Kansai Electric Power Co. is conducting additional checks after an NRA team delayed a decision on whether a fault under its Ohi plant is active.

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