Nuclear plant closure in Japan

A power company is due to suspend Japan's sole operating reactor for scheduled maintenance, leaving the nation without nuclear-generated electricity following last year's atomic disaster at Fukushima.

Hokkaido Electric Power Co was to shut down Reactor 3 at Tomari Nuclear Power Plant on the northern Japanese island today. It will join the other 49 units suspended for check-ups or accidents.

Japanese power companies have been unable to reactivate their idle reactors because of public fears about nuclear power following the atomic disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. The Fukushima plant suffered core meltdowns at three of its six reactors after it was struck by a magnitude-9 earthquake and resulting tsunami in March last year, releasing massive amounts of radiation.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and three cabinet ministers declared in mid-April that Reactors 3 and 4 at Oi Nuclear Power Plant, in Fukui prefecture in central Japan, were safe and ready to restart.

The Government has repeatedly warned of a possible power crunch unless idle reactors are reactivated, but opposition to the restart is growing.

In a poll released last month 59.5 per cent oppose restarting nuclear reactors at the Oi plant while 26.7 per cent support it.

- AAP

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