Japan to Be Without Nuclear Power for First Time in 42 Years
NEWS, 7 May 2012
Japan will be without nuclear power for the first time in 42 years when the country’s last working commercial reactor is switched off Saturday [5 May 2012].
At 5:00pm local time, the Hokkaido Electric Power Company will begin to reduce power at the No. 3 reactor at Tomari nuclear plant, broadcaster NHK reported.
Output from the reactor is scheduled to cease completely at 11:00pm before it is brought to a “cold shutdown” at 2:00am Sunday.
The shutdown of the No. 3 reactor had been scheduled as part of regular inspections. However, following the disastrous March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami, no reactors switched off for checkups have been reactivated, Kyodo News reported.
The twin disasters triggered the Fukushima nuclear crisis — with mass evacuations and radiation spewing into the atmosphere sparking concerns nationwide about the safety of nuclear power.
“A new Japan with no nuclear power has begun,” said Gyoshu Otsu, a 56-year-old monk who joined a protest against nuclear power in front of the industry ministry in Tokyo, which supervises the nation’s power utilities.
“Generating nuclear power is like a criminal act as a lot of people are still suffering,” Otsu told AFP.
“It’s a symbolic day today. Now we can prove that we will be able to live without nuclear power,” rally organizer Masao Kimura said.
Separately, some 5,500 demonstrators staged a rally at a park near Tokyo Tower and later marched through central Tokyo carrying banners, which read: “Sayonara [Goodbye], nuclear power.”
“We have to take action now so that Fukushima should be the last nuclear accident not only in Japan but all over the world,” Mizuho Fukushima, head of the opposition Social Democratic Party, said during the rally.
The shuttering at Tomari will mark the first time since 1970 that resource-poor and energy-hungry Japan has been without nuclear power, a technology that had provided a third of its electricity until meltdowns at the Tokyo Electric Power Company-operated Fukushima facility.
According to the Nikkei daily, electricity shortages are anticipated in Osaka, Hokkaido and Kyushu. Households and businesses have been advised that they could be asked to cut down on electricity-use.
Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yukio Edano earlier warned that rolling blackouts may be implemented in certain areas.
The shutdown will mean that Japan’s entire stable of 50 reactors will be off-line, despite increasingly urgent calls from the power industry and bodies like the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, who fear dire consequences for the world’s third-largest economy.
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