Japan shuts down final nuclear plant

Environment In Other News Trends & Culture - September 17th, 2013

Japan shut down its last operating nuclear reactor, marking the first time the country has gone nuclear-free since July 2012.

Kansai Electric Power Company’s Reactor 4, at its Ohi plant in western Japan, went offline early Monday.

Ohi’s Reactor 3 was halted earlier this month for maintenance. The reactors at Ohi have been the only ones to restart after the Fukushima meltdown in 2011.

Prior to the earthquake and tsunami, Japan heavily relied on nuclear power from its 50 reactors, which accounts for 30% of the nation’s electricity.

Kepco, which powers Japan’s second-biggest metropolitan area, provided no timetable for a restart. Some analysts say Japan will be without nuclear power until December at the earliest, prompting concerns for the coming winter.

Makoto Yagi, chairman of the Federation of Electric Power Companies, told reporters in Tokyo that Japan may not have enough capacity in winter without nuclear power.

Japan’s ten regional power companies are still assessing winter power demand and supply, Yagi added.

Japan was forced to import huge amounts of coal, liquid natural gas and other fuels after the meltdown in Fukushima.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seeking to get the reactors back on line but continuing problems at the Fukushima plant have hampered the government’s attempts to win public support for nuclear power.

Earlier this month, Tokyo Electric Power Co admitted that highly contaminated water may have leaked into the sea and radiation levels had risen around storage tanks.

Image: IAEA Imagebank/Flickr