Japanese mayor orders quake-hit nuclear plant shut for now

The city housing the world's largest nuclear power plant on Wednesday ordered the facility to stay closed until its safety is confirmed following an earthquake.

Japanese mayor orders quake-hit nuclear plant shut for now
"It is difficult to allow you to operate the plant in this situation under the fire laws. I order a ban on its use," Kashiwazaki Mayor Hiroshi Aida said.

He summoned the president of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the world's biggest private power company which operates the gigantic complex.

TEPCO president Tsunehisa Katsumata, clad in a plant worker's blue uniform, bowed deeply before the mayor, saying: "I apologise from the bottom of my heart for causing tremendous concerns and nuisance."

The sprawling Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, located only nine kilometres (5.6 miles) from the epicentre of Monday's 6.8 magnitude quake, leaked small amounts of radiation, according to TEPCO.

It also had dozens of other problems, including a fire, leakages of water and oil, misplaced duct pipes and broken equipment.

The plant's operations have been suspended since the earthquake and the industry ministry already ordered its nuclear reactors to stay shut until safety is confirmed. The latest order means none of the facility can be used.

Japan, which has virtually no oil or natural gas resources, relies more on nuclear energy than any Group of Eight industrial nation except France.

But plans for new plants frequently meet public opposition in Japan, which is particularly sensitive about nuclear leaks as it is the sole country to have suffered atomic attack.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 18 Temmuz 2007, 09:24