may shut down all its nuclear reactors
The Japan Times, Fukushima (Kyodo), December
Original address: http://www.japantimes.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20021212a5.htm
All of the 17 nuclear reactors run by Tokyo Electric
Power Co., the nation's largest utility, may have to be shut down temporarily
In addition to shutdowns
for regular checkups, Tepco needs to carry out unscheduled inspections
at some facilities following revelations it falsified reports on nuclear
Tepco had planned to keep the No. 2 and No. 6 reactors
running at the Fukushima No. 1 power station, but the company recently
told the Fukushima Prefectural Government it intends to shut them down
sometime between late March and early April in response to the prefecture's
call for thorough inspections, a company official said.
The period of suspension is indefinite for the moment
because the details of the plan are still being worked out. But the
possibility of all reactors simultaneously being down cannot be ruled
out, the official said.
Power supply "will be in an extremely severe
situation, but we are considering (the shutdowns) because we believe
our primary task is to restore confidence," another Tepco official
said. "We hope to weather it with thermal power generation and
In late August, it was revealed Tepco had falsified
safety reports and covered up defects found during safety checks carried
out in the 1980s and 1990s at the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear
power stations, and at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station
in Niigata Prefecture.
The Fukushima No. 1 power station has six reactors,
with operations at three already suspended and another scheduled to
be shut down for inspection by Feb. 11. Reactors No. 2 and No. 6 will
be suspended in late March and early April.
The Fukushima No. 2 station has four reactors, with
operations at three suspended and the other slated to be inspected by
A regular inspection of one of the suspended reactors
at Fukushima No. 1 is scheduled to end in January, but Tepco says it
is not yet ready to announce a date for resuming operations because
the trust of local residents must be restored first.
Tepco also has seven reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa
Nuclear Power Station in Niigata Prefecture. Three of them have been
suspended and the fourth will be subject to inspection by the end of
In a related development, the House of Councilors
passed two nuclear reactor regulation bills into law Thursday, aiming
to prevent reactor-facility defects from being covered up by plant operators.
The laws have revised the Electric Utility Law and
the Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law. They place company inspections in
the framework of law and toughen punishments for violators.
The laws have adopted standards that will allow
an operator to keep running a reactor even if damage is found at its
facilities or in its equipment, but only after estimating how much such
damage is likely to increase.
If an internal inspection shows there is a likelihood
that damage found at reactor facilities or equipment may exceed safety
standards, the operator will be required to report it to the government.
The laws also will allow the Nuclear Safety Commission
to investigate potential misdemeanors based on tips from whistle-blowers,
as the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry's nuclear safety agency
and other bodies already do.
The new rules on reactor operations and inspections
will take effect next fall. The additional powers will be granted to
the nuclear commission next spring.
On the same day, the Diet also enacted a law to
create an independent administrative agency that will carry out part
of the reactor facility inspections undertaken by the state.