Investigating the Gap Between Actual and Perceived Distance from a Nuclear Power Plant: A Case Study in Japan
Takaaki Kato*, Shogo Takahara**, and Toshimitsu Homma**
*Faculty of Environmental Engineering, The University of Kitakyushu
1-1 Hibikino, Wakamatsu, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka 808-0135, Japan
**Nuclear Safety Research Center, Japan Atomic Energy Agency
2-4 Shirakata, Tokaimura, Naka-gun, Ibaraki 319-1195, Japan
This study investigates factors in gaps between perceived and actual straight-line distance to Japan’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant (KKNPP). The distance to areas in the official accident response plan is defined using straight lines from the NPP, making it important to determine whether area residents understand these distances correctly. Adults living in the two municipalities cohosting the NPP were surveyed randomly in 2005, 2010 and 2011. In this study, we consider three groups of factors — geographical features, personal attributes, and experience in events highlighting nuclear safety. The Niigata-ken Chuetsu-oki earthquake hit the NPP between the first and second of these three surveys, and the Tohoku earthquake and the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident occurred between the second and the third surveys. Before the Fukushima accident, overestimations of straight-line distance were common among respondents, and geographical features such as lack of NPP visibility aggravated bias between actual and perceived distance. After the Fukushima accident, underestimation of the distance became common and personal attributes became more influential as the factor of the perceived-actual distance gap.
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