70% of Fukushima residents afraid of another nuke mishap

More than 70% of some 10,000 households in seven towns and villages in the Futaba region of Fukushima Prefecture feel “uneasy and pained” about a possible recurrence of the 2011 nuclear accident and about the safety of planned facilities for interim storage and disposal of polluted waste, Fukushima University said in an interim survey report on Sept. 6. The second survey since the disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant showed that a combined 71.4% of the responding families find it “strongly true” or “slightly true” they hold such sentiments over the possibility of another accident occurring before the crippled plant is decommissioned and that 70.3% feel similarly about the safety issue. The respondents were allowed to pick multiple answers to each question. The survey results brought home local people’s desire for securing the safety of decommissioning work as well as ensuring careful operation and management of such facilities as the interim storage complex to be built in an area straddling the towns of Okuma and Futaba that host the nuclear plant. According to the survey that asked what residents feel “uneasy and pained” about, 49.6% said it was “strongly true” and 21.8% “slightly true” they felt such a sentiment about a possible recurrence of the accident ahead of completion of the decommissioning work. Meanwhile, 46.4% picked “strongly true” and 23.9% “slightly true” for feeling such concern about the safety of the storage and disposal facilities. A spate of trouble has occurred in the decommissioning project, including the human error-caused stoppage of a pump that pours cooling water onto melted nuclear fuel inside reactor Unit 3 and the temporary halt of a cooling function for a pool of spent fuel in each of Units 2 and 3. Both incidents occurred last December. The survey also showed that a combined 74.9% feel it is “strongly true” or “slightly true” that “connections and exchanges within their communities have become sparse” while 72.1% feel it is “strongly true” or “slightly true” that “connections and exchanges with longtime friends and acquaintances have become sparse.” The survey was based on a questionnaire mailed last February to 26,582 households of families who lived in the towns of Naraha, Tomioka, Okuma, Futaba and Namie and the villages of Kawauchi and Katsurao at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing nuclear accident. Replies were received from 10,081 of them. The previous first survey was conducted in 2011. (Translated by Kyodo News)