MATSUE, Japan (Kyodo) -- A nuclear evacuation drill was held Tuesday in the western Japan prefecture of Shimane, which hosts the country's only nuclear plant built in a prefectural capital.
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The drill in the city of Matsue was based on the scenario of a severe accident at Chugoku Electric Power Co.'s Shimane nuclear plant triggered by a powerful earthquake registering upper 6 on Japan's seismic intensity scale of 7.
Of the several hundred residents who participated, 127 evacuated to nearby Okayama and Hiroshima prefectures.
As the Shimane plant is located near a geologic fault, the prefectural government assumed a scenario in which the nuclear plant loses power to cool reactors and spews radioactive materials following the quake. Around 390,000 people live within 30 kilometers of the plant.
"We would have to evacuate residents outside the prefecture because of the large number of residents (living around the plant). We want to enhance the effectiveness of evacuation," said a prefectural government official in charge of nuclear safety measures.
After gathering at community centers and local schools in the morning, residents took buses to the city of Kasaoka in Okayama, around 120 km from the plant and the town of Jinsekikogen in Hiroshima, about 100 km from the plant.
Ichio Tsunoda, the 64-year-old head of a local residents' association, said, "I am worried about elderly and disabled people who would have to remain on a bus for a long time."
At the Shimane plant, the No. 1 unit is being decommissioned and the No. 2 reactor is being screened for reactivation under stricter regulations introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Construction of the plant's No. 3 reactor is nearing completion.