More than one in 10 nuclear power plants at risk from earthquakes - Science - News - The Independent

More than one in 10 nuclear power plants at risk from earthquakes

Many stations are in countries that would be less able than Japan to cope with disasters

Scores of nuclear power plants worldwide are at risk from tsunamis or earthquakes similar to the natural disasters that crippled Japan's Fukushima reactors, according to new research. Many at-risk plants are in countries less able to cope with a disaster than Japan, experts have warned.

Seventy-six operating power stations in Japan, Taiwan, China, South Korea, India, Pakistan and the US are located in areas close to coastlines deemed vulnerable to tsunamis.

Of 442 nuclear power stations globally, more than one in 10are situated in places deemed to be at high or extreme risk of earthquakes – in Japan, the US, Taiwan, Armenia and Slovenia – according to a new study by the analysts Maplecroft.

Helen Hodge, Maplecroft's natural hazards analyst, said: "Although Japanese nuclear facilities are particularly exposed, other countries could also face similar risks. South Korea, Taiwan, southern China, India, Pakistan and the west coast of the US have operating or planned nuclear facilities on tsunami-exposed coastlines, while nuclear sites in areas of high or extreme risk of earthquakes can be found in western US, Taiwan, Armenia, Iran and Slovenia."

Emeritus Professor Keith Barnham, a physicist from Imperial College London, commented: "Japan is one of the most advanced technological counties but one can see the problems they are having in coping with the aftermath. One fears for the reactors planned or operational in the environmentally unsafe areas of less technologically developed countries."

Nuclear safety experts cite the example of an ageing Russian-built nuclear reactor only 30km from the Armenian capital, Yerevan. In December 1988, a powerful earthquake, which led to the deaths of at least 25,000 people, occurred in north-west Armenia. The following year, the Metsamor nuclear plant was shut down due to safety concerns regarding "seismic vulnerability". Although one of its reactors is now being decommissioned, another remains operational. The International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) has been involved in safety improvements at the plant for more than a decade.

But, according to the World Nuclear Association, "The present Metsamor plant is a concern to the European Union and to neighbouring Turkey, 16km away. There have been various calls to shut it down ... but Armenia is very dependent on it and has said that it will remain open until a replacement is commissioned."

The risks of future natural disasters have been recognised by the IAEA in recent years, which set up the International Seismic Safety Centre in 2008. Its safety guidelines on earthquakes and tsunamis are being revised following the incident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The Japanese crisis has reignited the debate over nuclear safety. As a result, several nations, including Italy, Switzerland and Germany, have put new reactor plans on hold. The nuclear plant at Fukushimi was crippled after an earthquake and tsunami devastated north-east Japan last month.

James Acton, nuclear expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, commented: "The key question is whether we have correctly predicted the risk that a reactor could be hit by a disaster (natural or man-made) that is bigger than it is designed to withstand. This issue should be urgently reviewed by all states with reactors."

Jeremy Gordon, editor of World Nuclear News, predicted there would be a "step change" in efforts to improve safety. "While it's true that many, if not most countries, would be less prepared than Japan to face an unprecedented natural disaster and nuclear accident on this scale," he said, "the country involved in future would likely have a far better practical support network from other governments and practical experts in industry."

Dr Gordon Woo, an IAEA consultant, said there was already a "significant degree" of seismic technology transfer by the IAEA to less advanced nations. He predicted this would increase after the Japanese disaster.

Suggested Topics
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week