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Japan to shut down ‘dangerous’ Hamaoka nuclear reactors

Japan is to shut down a nuclear power station branded the world’s most dangerous, despite fears that the closure could affect local industry.

The Hamaoka plant in Omaezaki, south-west of Tokyo, sits near a major fault line and concern about the plant has spiked in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. Japan’s prime minister Naoto Kan last week said there was an 87% chance of an 8.0 quake in the area in the next 30 years, and requested that owners Chubu Electric shut down reactors at the site.

Today the company said it would stop the operation of reactors 4 and 5 at Hamaoka. Reactor 3 was already closed and operation will not be resumed, it added. Reactors 1 and 2 were already shut down.

Restarting the reactors will wait at least until the company has built additional defences against natural disaster, including a sea wall.

The Hamaoka plants supply much of the electricity to the local region and some are worried that power outages stemming from the shut down could affect production in Japan’s industrial sector.

“This news is triggering uncertainty not just about Chubu Electric, but the whole utility sector,” Yoshinori Nagano, a senior strategist at Daiwa Asset Management, told the BBC. “Investors are concerned that on the back of this news, other reactors currently under inspection may not resume operations soon.”

Japan’s government may step in to compensate Chubu, which has already warned that the plant closure could hit its finances hard (Reuters 1, Reuters 2).

You can find Hamaoka on this map of population density and nuclear power, and check out all Nature’s related coverage at our Fukushima special page.


  1. Report this comment

    Kashmir News said:

    Great post! I agree that Japan needs to shut down these dangerous nuclear reactors as they are hopelessly unstable!

  2. Report this comment

    Andy said:

    Unbelievable that being a couple of months down the line from the quake and this sort of issue is still at large! I truly feel for those in Japan, horrible to never know what’s going to happen next.

  3. Report this comment

    SSR0601 said:

    The nuclear energy has been pushed as a cheap, clean source of electricity. Yet, the Japanese still bear some of the highest electricity costs in the world.

    Cost Should Scrub Nuclear Power !

    The nuclear industry had succeeded in convincing the public and policymakers that nuclear power was a cheap and effective means to reduce global warming. However, when exposed to open scrutiny, the numbers just don’t add up that way.

    Set aside its escalating, staggering cost trajectory, as for Japan, nuclear energy production costs must include these :

    Plus, the cost of waste disposal.

    Nobody is considering the cost of storing radioactive waste for 100,000 years. If that is considered, no electric company could make a go of nuclear power.

    Plus, the trillions worth of unlimited liability costs. (Tepco had no disaster insurance)

    Plus, massive costs to defend against tsunami including sea wall, new backup power.

    (Worse still, most nuclear reactors in Japan would fail to achieve a stable condition in the event that all regular power sources are lost, even though plant operators have prepared new backup power sources as well as electric generators amid the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, according to utility industry sources.

    The possibility of a failure to secure the safety of the reactors is because the backup power sources do not have enough capacity to operate all of the devices needed to keep the reactors cool.

    Many reactors still effectively have no alternative power source should emergency diesel generators fail to work, as was the case at the Fukushima plant after it was hit by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11.)

    Plus, the added costs for new designs to require ever more stringent safety features. (The tremors that shook the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant during the March 11 earthquake exceeded plant’s quake-resistance standards, meaning that that quake-resistance measures currently in place at nuclear power plants throughout the country are insufficient.)

    Plus, huge lobbying costs for politicians, academies, media…

    Plus, in exchange, huge subsidies for nuclear industry from the govt.

    Plus, subsidies for hosting the nuclear plant.

    Plus, Nuclear’s history of cost overruns.

    Another major business risk is nuclear’s history of construction delays. Delays would run costs higher. No nuclear plant has ever been completed on budget.

    Plus, the cost of eye-popping costs for transmission upgrades.

    For instance, Florida Progress will require $3 billion in transmission upgrades to accommodate its new nuclear plants.

    Plus, the waste of premise :

    Time to build the plant, 6-8 years.

    Time to completely depreciate the plant: 20 years.

    In the U.S., power purchase agreements for wind power are currently averaging 4.5 to 7.5 cents a kilowatt hour, including the federal wind tax credit,

    but, the generation costs for power from new nuclear plants stand at from 25 to 30 cents per kilowatt-hour —triple current U.S. electricity rates!

    It might be worth noting that worldwide, there is not a single private investment in a nuclear power plant. No private investor wants to put his money into nuclear energy! ( at least as of 12 September, 2008)

    Why? Simply because the risks are too high and the return on investment is much too low.

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