AsianScientist (Oct. 1, 2012) – Spanish researchers have identified 23 atomic power plants that are more prone to suffering the effects of a tsunami, after one struck the Fukushima Dai-ichi power station in Japan that led to the meltdown of three reactors in March 2011.
In the study published in the journal Natural Hazards, the researchers drew a map of the world’s geographic zones that are more at risk of large tsunamis.
As such phenomena are still difficult to predict, the authors used historical, archaeological, geological, and instrumental records as a base for determining tsunami risk.
In total, they found that 23 plants are located in dangerous areas, including Fukushima I, with 74 reactors located in East and Southeast Asia.
“We are dealing with the first vision of the global distribution of civil nuclear power plants situated on the coast and exposed to tsunamis,” said study co-author José Manuel Rodríguez-Llanes, researcher at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium.
Despite the fact that the risk of these natural disasters threatens practically the entire western coast of the American continent, the Atlantic Coast, and the coast of North Africa, the authors say that the Eastern Mediterranean and areas of Oceania, especially in South and Southeast Asia are at greater risk due to the presence of atomic power stations.
27 out of 64 nuclear reactors that are currently under construction in the world are found in China. This is an example of the massive nuclear investment of the Asian giant.
“The most important fact is that 19 (two of which are in Taiwan) out of the 27 reactors are being built in areas identified as dangerous,” state the authors of the study.
In the case of Japan, which in March 2011 suffered the consequences of the worst tsunami in its history, there are seven plants with 19 reactors at risk, one of which is currently under construction.
South Korea is now expanding two plants at risk with five reactors. Indian (two) and Pakistani (one) reactors could also feel the consequences of a tsunami.
“The location of nuclear installations does not only have implications for their host countries but also for the areas which could be affected by radioactive leaks,” said lead author Joaquín Rodríguez-Vidal, a researcher at the University of Huelva.
To avoid future disasters, Rodríguez-Vidal recommends the drafting of more local analyses that consider the seismic amplification of each nuclear power plant and determine the adaptation of installation identified in the study.
“But since the tsunami in 2004 the Indian Ocean region is still to take effective political measures,” warn the researchers.
Notably, the Fukushima crisis took place in a highly developed country with one of the highest standards in scientific knowledge and technological infrastructure.
“If it had occurred in a country less equipped for dealing with the consequences of catastrophe, the impact would have been a lot more serious for the world at large,” the authors wrote.
The article can be found at: Rodriguez-Vidal J et al. (2012) Civil nuclear power at risk of tsunamis.
Source: FECYT; Photo: IAEA Photobank/Flickr/CC.
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