On September 27 a volcanic peak, Mount Ontake, unexpectedly erupted killing at least 31 people who were hiking on the slopes. More people may have been killed and buried in the ash. You may well ask what these people were doing on an active volcano. They were assured that Mt. Ontake was safe because the seismic sensors placed on the mountain showed no activity.
There are 110 active volcanoes in Japan.
The Nuclear Regulatory Authority(NRA) has recently given a nuclear facility at Sendai a safety pass – July 16, 2014. Objections raised by those opposed to the reopening of the nuclear stations based partly on its proximity to an active volcano were dismissed. The NRA stated that enough warning of an eruption would be given by seismic detectors placed on Mount Sakurajima. The nuclear power plant is located 50km(31mi.) from the volcano.
The Green Action organization has investigated the safety plans in case of an emergency at the plant. While the scientists in Japan are among the world’s best in dealing with vulcanism, like earthquakes, eruptions are very difficult to predict with any lead time.
Being able to predict the extend of the volcanic eruption and when pyroclastic flow will occur is absolutely necessary because nuclear fuel must be removed from the power plant site beforehand and because this removal takes years to complete. Green Action
The Kyushu Electric company is not alone in having nuclear reactors in close proximity to a volcano. Hokkaido Electric Power Company at Tomari has three reactors near an active caldera.
Referring to the deadly eruption on Friday at Mt. Ontake, the government spokesperson was quoted in the Japan Today News
“This was a steam-driven (eruption) and it has been said it was extremely difficult to predict,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.
Asked whether the eruption would require careful assessment of the restart at Sendai, Suga said: “I don’t think so.”
While there is a small chance that a combination of events will send a pyroclastic flow to inundate the Sendai plant, it was an improbable group of events that led to the Fukushima disaster which is still spewing poison over three years later.
Japan Today News