Japanese volcano 40 miles from nuclear plant shows signs of possible eruption

Sendai nuclear plant lies near the volcano Ioyama, on the volcanically active Kirishima mountain range

Rose Troup Buchanan
Friday 24 October 2014 08:25 BST
A government handout from the Ontake eruption last month
A government handout from the Ontake eruption last month (Getty)

A volcano in southern Japan only 40 miles from a nuclear power plant is showing signs of threatening to erupt.

Japanese authorities issued the warning today after the calamitous eruption of Mount Ontake killed 57 hikers in Japan’s worst volcanic disaster in nearly 90 years last month.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency’s volcano division said that the volcano Ioyama, a mountain on the southwestern island of Kyushu, had been shaken by small tremors – some lasting as long as seven minutes.

Ioyama lies in the volcanically active Kirishima mountain range – roughly 40 miles from the Sendai nuclear plant.

"There is an increase in activity that under certain circumstances could even lead to a small scale eruption, but it is not in danger of an imminent, major eruption," the official said.

Although the level of the mountain has only been raised to the second lowest level – normal – this signifies that the crater is dangerous.

The government is keen is restart the Sendai plant, run by Kyushu Electric Power Co., despite a negative public perception of nuclear power following the Fukishma catastrophe.

The plant also lies only 31 miles from the active volcano Mount Sakurajima - which erupts frequently. The crater was upgraded to a level 3 warning level on Friday, which means that people should not approach the peak.

The plant may not restart until next year as it still needs to pass operational safety checks in addition to gaining the approval of local authorities.

Nonetheless, the Nuclear Regulartion Authority (NRA) claimed the chance of a major eruption during the lifespan of the nuclear pleant was negible.

Japan lies on the "Ring of Fire" - a horseshoe-shaped band of fault lines and volcanoes around the edges of the Pacific Ocean - and is home to more than 100 active volcanoes.

Experts warn that the mammoth 9.0 March 2011 quake may have increased the risk of volcanic activity throughout Japan, including that of iconic Mount Fuji.

Additional reporting from Reuters

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