Japan`s Hamaoka nuclear plant suspends operations

Japan`s PM Naoto Kan earlier this month called for the closure of the plant.

Last Updated: May 14, 2011, 10:03 AM IST

Tokyo: The operator of Japan`s ageing Hamaoka nuclear power plant, located near a tectonic faultline southwest of Tokyo, suspended its operations Saturday, officials said.

The plant`s number-five reactor stopped generating power at 10:15 am (0115 GMT) and was due to be shut down a few hours later with workers inserting control rods, Chubu Electric Power Cp spokesman Atsuo Sawaki said.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan earlier this month called for the closure of the plant, eight weeks after a massive quake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima nuclear plant northeast of Tokyo, sparking the world`s worst atomic crisis in 25 years.
The plant, located 200 kilometres (125 miles) from Tokyo, has five reactor units, but only two have been running recently -- numbers four and five. Reactor number four was suspended on Friday.

Reactors one and two, built in the 1970s, were stopped in 2009, and three is undergoing maintenance.

Seismologists have long warned that a major quake is overdue in the Tokai region southwest of Tokyo where the Hamaoka plant is located.

The Hamaoka plant accounts for almost 12 percent of the output of Chubu Electric, which services a large part of Japan`s industrial heartland, including many Toyota auto factories.

Kan said the plant should stay shut while a higher sea wall is built and other measures are taken to guard it against a major quake and tsunami. Local media said the suspension would last about two years.

Bureau Report