Japan orders shutdown of Hamaoka nuke plant

Last Updated: Saturday, May 7, 2011 - 00:35

Tokyo: Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan
on Friday ordered the shutdown of an ageing nuclear plant near
here due to safety concerns as the atomic unit is located
close to dangerous tectonic faultline.

"As prime minister, I have ordered, through trade
minister (Banri) Kaieda, that Chubu Electric Power Co. halt
operations of all the reactors at the Hamaoka nuclear power
plant," Kan said at a televised press conference.

He said he has asked the company operating the unit in
central Japan to halt operations of all the three active
reactors at the Hamaoka nuclear power plant, due to the risk
of earthquakes, national broadcaster NHK reported.

The Japanese prime minister announced the decision,
citing the need to better secure the plant against earthquakes
and tsunami in the wake of the nuclear accident at the
Fukushima Daiichi plant.

"The relevant authorities, including the science
ministry, have shown that the possibility of a magnitude-8.0
earthquake hitting the area of the Hamaoka plant within the
next 30 years is 87 per cent," the premier said.

The plant is located in Tokai region southwest of
Tokyo where the Hamaoka plant is located. It is only 200
kilometres from the capital and falls in earthquake prone
zone.

Nearly 30,000 people were killed or missing in
earthquake and tsunami that hit north east Japan on March 11.

"This is a decision made for the safety of the people
when I consider the special conditions of the Hamaoka plant,"
Kan said, adding: "I made the decision myself as prime
minister."

Kan had asked the plant operator, Chubu Electric Power
Company, to halt reactors No.4 and No.5, and not to restart
reactor No.3, which is now offline for regular inspections.

The Hamaoka plant in Shizuoka Prefecture has 5
reactors. Reactors No.1 and 2 are permanently shut down for
decommissioning.

Kan said the government made the decision after
"taking into account the enormous impact a serious accident at
the Hamaoka nuclear plant would have on the Japanese society
as a whole", the Kyodo news reported.

"It is necessary to steadfastly implement measures
on a middle- and long-term basis, including construction of
sea walls which can fully withstand an anticipated Tokai
earthquake," he said.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, May 7, 2011 - 00:35

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