Evacuation models show residents near Hamaoka plant may need up to 46 hours to evacuate

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Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant - Shizuoka Prefecture - Japan

The Shizuoka prefectural government has announced that it could take more than 28 hours to evacuate the 860,000 residents who live within the 30-kilometer radius of the Hamaoka nuclear power plant in the event of a serious accident.

On Thursday, the prefecture released estimated evacuation times for residents amid a number of scenarios.  According to prefectural officials it was the first time a local government in Japan conducted a full-scale evacuation simulation of a multiple disaster scenario involving an earthquake and a nuclear incident.

The Hamaoka plant in Shizuoka prefecture is located close to the center of an area projected to be the focal area of the Nankai Trough mega-quake and tsunami that experts believe will hit central Japan in the near future.

Before the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the planned evacuation zone was set at just over 6 miles, after the disaster that was expanded to over 18.5 miles.

The 12 different simulations provided by the prefecture considered different factors, such as whether or not the prefecture regulates traffic, and then calculated the total amount of time necessary to evacuate residents in each scenario.

According to the estimates released, if residents are evacuated in stages to avoid traffic problems it would take over 28 hours to complete evacuations.  This estimate is based on the most efficient evacuation models, and while it does acknowledge partial road blockage in some areas due to the likely effects of an earthquake and tsunami, it also assumes that three passengers will ride in each car – and only one car for each household.

Other, less efficient evacuation models showed that it could take between 32 and 46 hours to evacuate all the residents.

The estimates showed that it could take the 50,000 residents who live within 5 kilometers of the Hamaoka plant over 24 hours to flee outside of the 30 kilometer evacuation zone.

One prefectural official admitted, “It is highly likely that portions of residents will be exposed to radiation.”

Source: The Asahi Shimbun

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