Japan to be nuclear-free by April
Japan's last nuclear power plant will close in April as reactors are shut for safety checks. Chugoku Electric Power Co. (CEPCO) shut the No. 2 reactor at its Shimane nuclear station Jan. 25, leaving only 6.4% of Japan’s 48,960 megawatts of nuclear capacity on-line. The No. 5 unit at Kashiwazaki Kariwa station, run by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) was idled on Jan. 25. The remaining three reactors there are due to go off-line for regular checks during the next three months. The No. 5 reactor at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata prefecture was also suspended for scheduled checkups, leaving only one out of a total of 17 reactors run by TEPCO in service. All 17 reactors will go offline by the end of March. Among Japan's 54 commercial reactors, only two others are currently in operation—the No. 3 reactor at the Tomari plant in Hokkaido, the No. 3 reactor at the Takahama plant in Fukui prefecture (Chūbu region).
Meanwhile, the mayor of Hakodate on the northernmost main island of Hokkaido, Toshiki Kudo, called on the Industry Ministry and the ruling Democratic Party of Japan to indefinitely freeze a project to build a nuclear plant in the town of Oma in Aomori prefecture, just across the Strait of Tsugaru on the northern tip of Honshu. (Bloomberg, Jan. 26; Kyodo, Jan. 25)
TEPCO plans to spend about 1 trillion yen in the first 10 years of the decades-long process toward scrapping the crippled reactors at its Fukushima Daiichi power plant, according to an estimate drawn up by the utility and the state-backed Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund, created to bail out the industry following the disaster. (Kyodo, Jan. 27)