Tsunamis and natural disasters like the one which caused Japan’s Fukushima nuclear crisis threaten 23 other nuclear sites around the world.
Research published in the Natural Hazards journal suggests 74 reactors at 23 plants are in areas at risk, mostly in South East Asia.
The 15-metre tsunami which swept into Japan on 11 March 2011 after a major earthquake disabled the power supply and cooling of three Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors, sparking a meltdown which meant the surrounding area had to be evacuated.
Though tsunamis are still difficult to predict, according to the researchers, they say working out possible risks can be improved by comparing historical, archaeological and geological studies.
Debarati Guha Sapir, a professor and the director of disaster research centre CRED, her colleague Jose Rodriguez-Llanes and Prof Joaquin Rodriguez-Vidal at the University of Huelva in Spain looked at the coastal areas at risk of huge waves compared with the civilian nuclear sites which are either active, in expansion or being built.
Noting the “clustering” of threatened sites in South and South-East Asia, they warn funding is crucial to look at the problem: “We identified four areas for urgent policy attention, including the need for funding to translate the scientific risk assessment into effective policy.”