Monday, May 9, 2011

Chubu Agrees to Idle Nuclear Plant

TOKYO—Chubu Electric Power Co. President Akihisa Mizuno said Monday the company has decided to halt the No. 4 and No. 5 reactors at its Hamaoka nuclear power plant in Shizuoka Prefecture, central Japan, while keeping offline the No. 3 reactor, which is currently undergoing maintenance.

The amount of time they will be offline wasn't immediately clear.

This move to halt all operations at the plant comes after a request by Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Friday to shut the plant's three reactors until all planned safety measures against earthquakes and tsunami of similar magnitude to those seen on March 11 are implemented.

Separately, eight workers and a government inspector entered the reactor building of the quake-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex's No. 1 unit early Monday to survey conditions inside, another step toward bringing the complex's three damaged reactors under control.

It was the first time a government official took a firsthand look at the one of the reactors since they began leaking radiation after the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

"No noticeable damage or leakage was found in the area surveyed," said Hidehiko Nishiyama, spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, after the inspection. But he added the 30-minute survey wasn't sufficient to assess the condition of the vital pressure vessel, a thick steel cylinder that houses the nuclear fuel.

"There is a long way ahead to fully stabilizing all three reactors," another official said. "It is too early to rejoice."



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