Saturday, May 14, 2011

Japan suspends Hamaoka nuclear plant

Japan's Hamaoka nuclear power plant owned by Chubu Electric Power Co. is seen in Omaezaki, Shizuoka Prefecture, central Japan, May 13, 2011.

Source: Press TV

The operator of Japan's Hamaoka nuclear plant has suspended its operations amid concerns over a possible earthquake and tsunami.

Chubu Electric Power Co. spokesman Atsuo Sawaki said reactor No.5, the only operating reactor at Hamaoka plant, stopped working at 10:15 a.m. local time (0115 GMT) Saturday and is scheduled to be shut down, AFP reported.

Seismologists say a major quake is overdue in the Tokai region southwest of the Japanese capital, Tokyo, where the nuclear plant is located.

Reactors No. 1 and 2, which were constructed in the 1970s, were shut down in 2009 and reactor No.4 was stopped on Friday. Reactor No.3 is still under maintenance but is out of work.

Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan had earlier called for the closure of the plant, saying the Hamaoka nuclear plant should stay shut until proper safety measures are implemented to safeguard it against natural disasters.

The suspension of Hamaoka plant, which provides electricity for a large part of Japan's industrial heartland, including many Toyota factories, will deal a blow to the Asian country's already ailing economy.

The Japanese government says it has dropped earlier plans to increase nuclear-dependant electricity for the whole country from 30 to 50 percent and will try to boost the share of renewable energy instead.

A 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck northeastern Japan on March 11, setting off a nuclear crisis by knocking out power to cooling systems of reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and causing radioactive leaks.

Engineers are pumping water into the reactors to cool them as they work to restore the damaged cooling systems.

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