Drills Staged for Tsunami/Nuclear Accidents Across Japan
Japan holds nuclear evacuation drill for tsunami
Japan’s government is holding its first drill to evacuate people living near a nuclear power plant that has been hit by a tsunami.
The 2-day exercise began on Sunday in communities near the Tomari plant in Hokkaido. It has been offline pending a government screening for a restart.
The drill was based on the scenario that the reactors had lost their cooling functions after a powerful quake and a tsunami had cut off nearby roads.
A mock warning for a major tsunami was relayed through a public address system in Tomari Village.
Residents gathered at an elementary school as evacuees and village officials explained to them that they would be transported by bus to the regional capital of Sapporo, 60 kilometers away.
In neighboring Kyowa Town, workers used heavy machinery to remove driftwood that had blocked the roads.
Inside the plant compound, paramedics in protective gear covered the interior of an ambulance to prevent contamination by radioactive materials.
Firefighters used a water cannon to stop the spread of radioactive substances. Nuclear plants have been required to have water cannons since the Fukushima accident.
Officials from the Secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority and local municipalities gathered at the off-site center about 10 kilometers from the plant.
The State Minister of the Cabinet Office, Tadahiko Ito, who’s in charge of nuclear disaster prevention, arrived at the center 90 minutes late because bad weather had prevented him from using a helicopter. The officials at the center had a video conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo. He declared an emergency and told the officials to evacuate people within a 5-kilometer radius of the plant.
A drill for evacuating residents by bus and another to help foreign tourists will take place on Monday.
Another exercise is scheduled early next year to prepare for a possible accident at the Tomari plant during a snowstorm.