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Updated: May 10, 2011 02:17 IST

Japan orders n-plant shutdown

P. S. Suryanarayana
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Hamaoka nuclear power plant of Chubu Electric Power Co., in Omaezaki city, Shizuoka prefecture, central Japan. File photo: AP.
Hamaoka nuclear power plant of Chubu Electric Power Co., in Omaezaki city, Shizuoka prefecture, central Japan. File photo: AP.

A Japanese nuclear power plant has decided to halt its operations in a potentially unstable seismic zone. The Chubu Electric Power Company (CEPC) made the critical decision on Monday following Prime Minister Naoto Kan's intervention late last week.

Mr. Kan had cited a scientific forecast about the “87 per cent possibility of an 8-class earthquake” in Chubu's Hamaoka plant area — in Shizuoka prefecture in central Japan — sometime “within the next 30 years.” The suspension of operations was suggested so that the plant could enhance its capabilities to withstand powerful temblors and tsunamis.

On sensing some delay in decision-making on the part of CEPC, Mr. Kan on Sunday emphasised that “the tide is imminent” as predicted by experts. He urged the company to “discuss the situation” and take the “most appropriate decision.”

Responding on Monday, CEPC President Akihisa Mizuno said, in televised remarks, that the company would suspend the operations of two active reactors at its Hamaoka plant. The company would not also resume the operations of another reactor which was now under maintenance shut-down, he indicated. Two other reactors at the plant were already in line for decommissioning.

At the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) on Monday announced that the double doors of Unit 1 were opened to check radiation density in the wake of a delicate operation to “ventilate” the place. “A decrease in the radioactivity density” was noticed and there was also “no [adverse] impact on the surrounding areas,” TEPCO said. However, the company announced the detection of strontium elsewhere at the plant site.

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