Japan Safety Rules May Close Hamaoka
* Chubu's Hamaoka nuclear plant may face political obstacles
* Experts have warned that Hamaoka near active quake zone
TOKYO, May 5 (Reuters) - Strict safety measures may prevent
Chubu Electric Power Co (9502.T) from restarting two
reactors at its Hamaoka nuclear plant after they are shut
for regular maintenance, the local governor said on
The comment was a sign of the political obstacles that face
the plant in central Japan, where the No. 4 and 5 reactors
are due for future maintenance.
Japan has called for stricter safety measures following the
March 11 earthquake and tsunami that damaged Tokyo Electric
Power Co's (9501.T) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Utilities now have to keep their reactors shut for longer
periods under regular maintenance to make extra checks.
Some experts have warned about safety risks at Hamaoka,
which is about 200 kilometres (120 miles) southwest of Tokyo
and sits near an active earthquake zone that the government
has forecast carries an 87 percent chance of producing a
magnitude 8 or stronger earthquake in the next 30 years.
Chubu Electric has said it is not committed to a July
restart of the 1,100 megawatt No.3 reactor, which has been
shut since November for planned maintenance. [ID:nL3E7FS3IS]
The 1,137 MW No.4 reactor and the 1,380 MW No. 5 reactor are
"Chubu Electric is facing a very tough situation regarding
nuclear power. If things continue on like this, I think that
reactors No.3 to 5 will face a natural death," Heita
Kawakatsu, the governor of Shizuoka prefecture, said in a
meeting with government officials including Banri Kaieda,
the minister of economy, trade and industry who oversees
"Reactors No.4 and 5 will also go through their planned
maintenance. Reactor No.3 cannot be restarted despite having
received approval," Kawakatsu told reporters later.
"So even if No.4 and 5 are said to be fine, if the
maintenance standards are the same as No.3, then it would
also be difficult to operate No.4 and 5," he added.
Kawakatsu said Chubu Electric had acted quickly but repeated
his stance that Japan's third-biggest power company had not
done enough to meet the central government's recently
imposed safety regulations.
There are expert opinions that geologically a tsunami would
hit our prefecture even faster than it hit the Fukushima
plant. Even with that being so, the fact that tsunami
defense measures are being done in an off-the-cuff manner is
enough to cause unease, including in myself," he said.
While the minister of economy, trade and industry decides
whether reactors can be restarted, local authorities have a
say on safety issues.
Kaieda, who ordered nuclear plant operators in March to take
immediate steps to improve emergency preparedness following
the Fukushima crisis, has been visiting plants to check on
the safety measures. [ID:nL3E7EU110]
Earlier this week, Kaieda also visited Kansai Electric
(9503.T)'s Mihama nuclear plant in Fukui prefecture.
by Yoko Kubota