Nuke opponents warn of more Fukushimas via The Japan Times Online

OSAKA — The government’s plan to allow nuclear reactors to operate as long as 60 years has shocked antinuclear experts and activists, who warn of a Fukushima sequel.

The central government announced its plan Tuesday, the 17th anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake in Kobe. Under the proposal, once a reactor hits its 40th year, its operator could apply for a one-time extension of up to 20 years under certain conditions.

The proposal, which needs Diet approval, is similar to a law recently passed in the U.S. allowing 40-year-old reactors to apply for up to 20-year extensions.

“Deciding to extend the life of the plants to up to 60 years was a purely political decision made due to pressure from the nuclear power lobby. It wasn’t based on scientific data. And it was made despite the fact we don’t know the exact cause of the meltdowns at Fukushima,” said Hiroaki Koide, a nuclear physicist at Kyoto University Reactor Research Institute who turned against nuclear power years ago and wrote extensively before March 11 on the dangers of aging plants in quake-prone Japan.

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