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Thu Oct 23 15:47:13 SAST 2014

Another Japanese nuclear reactor suspended

Sapa-dpa | 25 January, 2012 08:24
A floating crane removing obstacle is seen from east breakwater at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima prefecture
A floating crane removing obstacle is seen from east breakwater at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima prefecture.
Image by: HANDOUT / REUTERS

A power plant operator said Wednesday that it had shut down a nuclear reactor in Niigata prefecture, central Japan, for regular checkups, which would leave only four of the nation’s 54 reactors in service.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) suspended reactor 5 of its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant Wednesday, leaving only one out of a total of 17 reactors run by the utility in operation, it said.

All 17 reactors will go offline by the end of March, when reactor 6 at the plant is halted for checkups, the utility said.

As Japanese utilities have shut down their reactors for regular inspection, accidents or maintenance, they have been unable to reactivate them amid growing public concerns about atomic power following the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, also run by TEPCO.

The Fukushima plant was hit by a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami on March 11, which triggered the crisis, leading meltdowns at three of its six reactors.

All 54 reactors in Japan are scheduled to be suspended for servicing by the end of April 2012. Unless a utility restarts one, none will be left running after that.

Last week, Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency endorsed  the positive stress test results for two suspended nuclear reactors  at Oi Nuclear Power Station in Fukui prefecture, central Japan.

In a stress test, utilities assess to what degree their reactors  are capable of withstanding natural disasters such as an earthquake  or tsunami.

The decision was the first since the government announced in July that safety assessments on reactors across the country would be conducted in two stages in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

Before the disaster, around 30 per cent of Japan’s electricity was nuclear generated.

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