Chubu Electric Power Co. will shelve its planned construction of a new reactor at its Hamaoka nuclear power plant in Shizuoka Prefecture, one of the nation’s most vulnerable nuclear facilities, sources said March 23.
The decision apparently reflects concerns about whether reactors remaining idle around the nation, including three at the Hamaoka plant, will be allowed to go online due to controversy surrounding safety checks by the government.
“We don’t know when we will be able to bring the existing reactors back to operation,” said a senior official at the electric utility, which serves central Japan, including Nagoya. “Under current circumstances, it will be difficult to win public understanding even if we release our plan to start a new reactor.”
In March last year, Chubu Electric submitted a report to the government on its energy supply plan in which it envisioned starting up a new reactor around 2020.
But it will drop the reference in a report it will submit later this month, the sources said.
Chubu Electric said its Unit 6, an advanced boiling water reactor, is capable of generating 1.4 gigawatts of power and will replace two nuclear reactors the company had already decided to decommission.
The utility initially planned to start the construction of the new reactor in fiscal 2016.
After the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Chubu Electric said last April that it would still stick to the original timetable for the planned reactor.
Chubu Electric is expected to decide on the fate of Unit 6 after the government announces the nation’s new energy policy this summer, including the percentage of nuclear power in the total output of electricity by the whole country.
The Hamaoka plant, situated in Omaezaki, has been shut down since last May. Naoto Kan, prime minister at the time, ordered its closure on grounds it was particularly vulnerable to powerful earthquakes and tsunami.
The Hamaoka plant sits in a coastal area near where two tectonic plates meet. Scientists say a major quake will likely strike the coastline of the Tokai region in coming decades.
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