Owners of the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant have agreed temporarily to suspend operating three nuclear reactors. The announcement comes a few days after Prime Minister Naoto Kan suggested such a move because of the particular risk that Hamaoka poses.
Operator Chubu Electric Power Company says it will build a taller, stronger seawall and make other adjustments and enhancements to Hamaoka before powering back up. The nuclear plant is on the coastline about 125 miles west of Tokyo. Its located in an earthquake prone area and seismologists and government officials believe that a powerful earthquake over the next 30 years would destroy Hamaoka much like the Fukushima plant which was devastated in a March earthquake and tsunami, which has led to an ongoing nuclear crisis.
According to the Associated Press nearly 80,000 people live within 6 miles around Hamaoka.
Chubu Electric President Akihisa Mizuno said the prime minister’s request was “extremely serious” and Chubu puts safety first.
“We believe that our efforts to strengthen safety will restore trust among people in the region and society,” said Mizuno at a news conference.
Kan welcomed the news. “It was a very good decision,” and we will assist in any way possible.
The three reactors in question produce roughly ten percent of Chubu’s electric supply.
Government officials identified Hamaoka as the most vulnerable of the 54 reactors operating in Japan. That is not to say that other plants do not pose a considerable risk.
Improvements to the facility could take up to two years.
(In the accompanying video on RTC, nuclear expert Arnie Gunderson says Fukushima has produced the worst nuclear groundwater contamination.)
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