Kan calls for halt of Hamaoka nuclear plant
Prime Minister Naoto Kan has asked a utility firm in central Japan to halt operations of all active reactors at the Hamaoka nuclear power plant, due to the risk of earthquakes.
Kan told a hastily arranged news conference on Friday evening that he made the decision in the wake of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The prime minister said he asked Chubu Electric Power Company that operates the Hamaoka plant to halt reactors No.4 and No.5, and not to restart reactor No.3, which is now offline for regular inspections.
The plant in Shizuoka Prefecture has 5 reactors, but units No.1 and 2 are permanently shut down for decommissioning.
The Hamaoka complex is known to sit directly above the projected focus of the Tokai Earthquake that experts have long warned of.
Kan said that a science ministry panel on earthquake research has projected an 87-percent possibility of a magnitude-8-class earthquake hitting the region within 30 years.
He said that considering the unique location of the Hamaoka plant, the operator must draw up and implement mid-to-long-term plans to ensure the reactors can withstand the projected Tokai Earthquake. Kan also said that until such plans are implemented, all the reactors should remain out of operation.
Chubu Electric has declined to respond immediately to the prime minister’s request. But Kan said he will try hard to win the company’s understanding.
The prime minister added that his government will do its utmost to ensure the stoppage of the reactors does not seriously affect power supplies in Chubu Electric’s service areas.
Kan said that although power shortages might occur when demand surges in the summer, he is confident that with the cooperation and understanding of the public, the nation can overcome such difficulties.
Friday, May 06, 2011 21:02 +0900 (JST)