Monday, May 9, 2011

Kyodo news: Utility grants Kan's request, plans new sea walls Chubu Electric OKs Hamaoka shutdown

 Nagoya — Chubu Electric Power Co. on Monday decided to shut down the Hamaoka nuclear power station in Shizuoka Prefecture in response to a request made by Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

 At a press conference, Chubu Electric President Akihisa Mizuno admitted that Kan's request was not legally binding but said that the prime minister's judgment carries significant weight.
 The utility, which serves the central Chubu region around Nagoya, will suspend Hamaoka's No. 4 and No. 5 reactors and delay resumption of No. 3.
 Mizuno said that the suspension is likely to last at least until it can finish building new sea walls to protect against the sort of massive tsunami that wrecked the Fukushima No. 1 power plant in Fukushima Prefecture. The project is likely to take two to three years to finish, he said.
 Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said in the morning that Chubu Electric was likely to eventually accept Kan's request.
 "Since this is very important for Chubu Electric, I believe it will take time to consider internally," the government's top spokesman said in Tokyo. "But the request is from the prime minister, so I believe the company will draw a conclusion based on this fact."
 The decision followed a weekend of inconclusive feasibility talks that discussed ways to maintain stable power supply to the industrial region during the summer, when power use peaks.
 Last Friday, Kan said all operations at the Hamaoka plant must be suspended due to concern that a powerful earthquake could hit the area and trigger another serious nuclear accident like the one at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1, which continues to emit radiaton into the environment.
 At issue is whether Chubu Electric can secure enough output capacity to meet summer demand by rebooting its suspended thermal power plants and whether it can procure enough fuel to that end at a time when Tokyo Electric is trying to do the exact same thing.
 The Nagoya-based firm is also examining if it can be held responsible by shareholders if its earnings suffer from the government's shutdown request, which lacks a legal basis.
 The Hamaoka plant, a coastal facility in the city of Omaezaki, provides around 11.7 percent of Chubu Electric's output. Its service area includes the head offices of such major manufacturers as Toyota Motor Corp. and Suzuki Motor Corp.


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