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Japanese plant officials defer decision on request to suspend Hamaoka operations

Officials failed to reach a decision on prime minister’s call to halt operations at central Japanese plant.

File photo from February 2011 of the Hamaoka power plant.
File photo from February 2011 of the Hamaoka power plant.
Image: Kyodo/AP/Press Association Images

JAPANESE POWER PLANT OFFICIALS have deferred their decision to acquiesce with government calls to shut down a nuclear power plant experts fear could be seriously damaged if a big earthquake or tsunami strikes that region.

The Japanese government called on the Chubu Electric Power Co to suspend operations at the Hamaoka plant, located some 155 miles west of Tokyo, while safety measures are enacted to prevent it becoming another crisis zone in the event of a serious earthquake.

Experts estimate there is a 90 per cent chance of a magnitude 8 or higher earthquake striking the area within 30 years.

Efforts to contain and control the Fukushima power station on the north-eastern coast continue, weeks after a major earthquake and tsunami crippled that plant. Workers recently entered the reactor building of Unit 1 at the plant for the first time since the 11 March earthquake.

The Hamaoka plant already courts controversy in Japan, having been described as the “most dangerous” nuclear plant in the country due to its proximity to a major fault plane, according to the Financial Times.

Kyodo News reports this afternoon that the Chubu power company met today to discuss the prime minister’s request, but failed to reach a decision. They are due to meet again after the weekend. Central to their discussions is how to make up the power shortage caused if the plant stops producing electricity.

With all three reactors running, the plant has an estimated maximum output of 30 million kilowatts over the summer. It provides power to about 16m people in central Japan.

- Additional reporting by the AP

Read more about the repair work being carried out on Japan’s damaged nuclear reactors >

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