Volcanic pumice threatens to shut down nuclear power plants in Japan

Japan’s nuclear regulator says a massive amount of pumice stones drifting in waters in the country’s southwest could affect domestic nuclear power plants.

Ishiwatari Akira, a member of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, told a regular meeting on Wednesday that the stones may affect the intake of water used for cooling nuclear reactors.

The pumice stones are being washed ashore on the coast of Okinawa Prefecture and the Amami region of Kagoshima Prefecture. They come from an undersea volcanic eruption near the Ogasawara island chain in the Pacific Ocean in August.

This video shows how the pumice spreads over the ocean:

Ishiwatari said the stones will likely come to Japan’s main island of Honshu and called on officials to be prepared.

The authority says accumulated pumice and other objects may clog up the seawater intake equipment for cooling nuclear reactors.

It plans to assess the impact of the stones as the situation develops, and see how it is being addressed by the operators of nuclear power plants.

Officials of the Nuclear Regulation Authority had earlier taken up the impact of pumice stones when they discussed overall consequences of volcanoes on nuclear power plants.

Workers struggled to remove the huge swarm of jellyfish that were overflowing into the site but after several hours, they managed to successfully clean up the system.

Hopefully, the pumice released by the August underwater eruption won’t trigger another nuclear disaster like Fukushima in Japan and around the world! [NHK]