Japanese plant in harm’s way will suspend nuclear power production

By By John M. Glionna and Kenji Hall  |  Los Angeles Times  |  Link to article

The Chubu company’s Hamaoka facility is considered vulnerable in case of a strong earthquake and tsunami.

Reporting from Tokyo-A Japanese utility agreed Monday to take its reactors offline at a seaside nuclear power plant, just days after Prime Minister Naoto Kan called for the shutdown over concerns that a strong earthquake and tsunami could provoke another nuclear crisis.

Board members of the Chubu Electric Power Co., Japan’s third-largest electric supplier, had met behind closed doors over the weekend before announcing late Monday that the utility would temporarily shut down the three reactors at its facility in Hamaoka, Shizuoka prefecture.

Kan’s extraordinary request last week signaled that Japan’s central government would at least for now seek to rein in an industry that in recent years has wielded increasing influence in the ongoing national debate over Japan’s energy policies.

After a 9.0-magnitude quake March 11 triggered a tsunami that damaged the coastal Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, spewing radioactivity into the nearby atmosphere, government officials evaluated the nation’s 54 reactors for vulnerability in case of a similar disaster – prompting Kan’s call for a shutdown.

Chubu President Akihisa Mizuno said the crisis at the Fukushima plant had triggered widespread concerns about nuclear energy.

“We decided to stand by a policy of putting safety first in our nuclear power business,” Mizuno said in a nationally televised news conference. (Full Article)