Japan to close N-plant over tsunami worries

Chubu Electric Power Co said it would agree to a request by Prime Minister Naoto Kan to close its Hamaoka plant, about 200 km  southwest of Tokyo. The move signals a potential shift in energy policy after the Fukushima Daichi plant in Japan’s northeast was wrecked by a giant tsunami triggered by one of the biggest earthquakes ever recorded on March 11.

The company said it could restart the plant once its tsunami wall and other safety steps had been approved by the authorities.  That could take two years, raising the risk of a shortage of electricity after the Fukushima plant was shut down by the tsunami.

Compounding public concern over an industry that supplies about 30 per cent of the quake-prone country’s electricity, another power operator said it had discovered a tiny amount of leaked radiation at its Tsuruga plant on the west coast. Japan Atomic Power said it had stopped the leak.

The government is under heavy pressure to review its energy policy, of which atomic power is a major part, after the March quake and tsunami wrecked the Fukushima nuclear power plant run by Tokyo Electric Power.

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