Japan nuclear regulator forms team to study indoor sheltering in accidents

Japan's nuclear regulator has established a taskforce to study the best approach for implementing indoor sheltering for residents living near nuclear power plants in the event of a nuclear accident. The move comes after the Noto Peninsula earthquake struck on New Year's Day, causing widespread damage, including in the area surrounding the Shika nuclear plant.

Guidelines set by the Nuclear Regulation Authority call for residents living within 5 kilometers of a plant to evacuate immediately after a serious nuclear accident.

They also advise residents living between 5 and 30 kilometers of a plant to shelter indoors, but evacuate if radiation levels exceed a certain level. Indoor sheltering is a way to reduce radiation exposure.

The NRA set up the team at a meeting on Wednesday. The team comprises two NRA commissioners, officials from the Cabinet Office in charge of nuclear disaster prevention and from municipalities hosting nuclear plants, and other experts.

The NRA has been further deliberating on measures to ensure the safety of residents living near nuclear plants since the powerful quake that hit the Noto Peninsula in central Japan. The disaster caused houses and other buildings to collapse and left communities isolated in extensive areas in Ishikawa Prefecture.

The taskforce is expected to discuss details such as the duration and conditions for lifting indoor sheltering, as well as the most effective way to implement indoor sheltering depending on the progression of a nuclear accident.

The taskforce is expected to draw up a report before the end of March next year.