Japan’s Chubu Electric Co. shuts down Hamaoka nuclear plant

05/09/2011 19:13


TOKYO (BNO NEWS) -- Japan's Chubu Electric Co. on Monday agreed to shut down its Hamaoka nuclear power station in Shizuoka Prefecture, two days after Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan requested to have all operations at the plant's reactors suspended.

The decision was made final after the company held a second extraordinary board meeting following Saturday's, which ended inconclusive, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported, adding that discussions surrounded different ways to solve power supply, especially during the summer. Chubu Electronic Co. President Akihiza Mizuno confirmed that the No. 4 and No. 5 reactors would be shut down, while the restarting of the No. 3 reactor would be postponed.

The plant is located in Shizuoka, less than 200 kilometers (124 miles) southwest from Tokyo and serves central Japan and the area around Nagoya.

On Friday, Kan said Japan's science ministry informed that an 8.0-magnitude earthquake is forecast to hit the Tokai region with an 87 percent probability in the coming 30 years, which could affect the nuclear plant.

The announcement poses new energy challenges to Japan as it is already facing difficult outages due to its ongoing nuclear crisis, but Kan had previously assured that Japan would take the necessary steps to supply the country with sufficient energy.

Last Thursday, workers entered the no. 1 nuclear reactor building at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant for the first time since the devastating March 11 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami that damaged the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) plant. The disaster disabled the cooling systems of the plant, and radioactive elements leaked into the sea and were later found in water, air and food products in some parts of Japan.

The workers installed eight pipes connected to a ventilating device at an adjacent turbine building as part of the efforts to reduce the high level of radioactivity inside the building in order to prevent workers from suffering dangerous radiation exposure when they work on setting up a new cooling system at the Unit 1 reactor building.

However, the International Atomic Energy Agency on Tuesday informed that the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant remained very serious, as the core damage for Units 1, 2 and 3 are of 55 percent, 35 percent and 33 percent respectively, as of April 27.

On April 29, TEPCO used a remotely controlled robot to check the status inside the Unit 1 reactor building and radiation up to 49 millisieverts per hour was detected inside it.

The disaster resulted in the death of at least 14,294 people, while some 13,000 people remain missing. Japanese officials have called it the worst crisis since the end of World War II.

Japan has approved a 4 trillion yen ($48.89 billion) emergency budget to finance the early phase of reconstruction. In addition, the evacuation zone was expanded beyond the initial 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) radius surrounding the damaged plant.


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