Japanese Officials Request Closure Of Three Nuclear Reactors
A Japanese power company was advised to suspend operations at three of its coastal nuclear reactors until government officials determine whether they can withstand a major earthquake or tsunami.
Fearing a second radiation crisis, the Japanese government is conducting a safety review of all 54 of the country’s nuclear reactors after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant and left more than 25,000 people dead.
The reactors in question are located at the Hamaoka nuclear plant, which is positioned a scant 110 yards (100 meters) off the Pacific coast in central Japan.
According to the New York Times, Chubu Electric Power Co. said in a statement it will “swiftly consider” the government’s request. The statement gave no further details. Government officials estimate the work could last two years.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan said at a news conference Friday evening he requested the shutdown for safety reasons, citing experts’ forecast of a 90 percent probability of a quake with magnitude of 8.0 or higher striking central Japan within 30 years.
Since the disaster at the Fukushima plant, Chubu Electric Power Co. has drawn up safety measures that include building a 12 foot-tall seawall over the next two to three years.
Currently, there are no concrete sea barriers protecting the ocean from the plant, but there are 32 to 50 foot sandhills between the ocean and the reactors, according to the company.
However, government officials say that it’s too risky to continue operating the reactors until more robust safety measures can be constructed.
Radiation leaks from the Fukushima crisis forced the evacuation of 80,000 people living within a 12-mile (20-kilometer) radius of the plant, and caused elevated radiation levels in milk, produce, tap and seawater.
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