Japan to switch off final nuclear reactor

The last working reactor in Japan is to be switched off on Saturday, leaving the country without nuclear power just over a year after the world's worst atomic accident in a quarter of a century.

As technicians ready to close down the No. 3 unit at Tomari in Hokkaido, the debate over whether Japan needs nuclear power has been reignited, amid increasingly shrill warnings of summer power blackouts.

Hokkaido Electric Power, which runs the plant, said they would at 5:00 pm (0800 GMT) begin inserting control rods that would halt the chain reaction and bring the reactor to "cold shutdown" some time on Monday.

The shuttering will mark the first time since the 1970s 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 Fukushima.

The tsunami-sparked disaster forced tens of thousands of people from their homes in an area around the plant -- some of whom may never be allowed to return.

It did not directly claim any lives, but has devastated the local economy, leaving swathes of land unfarmable as radiation spewed from the ruins.

With the four reactors at Fukushima crippled by the natural disaster public suspicion of nuclear power grew, so much so that no reactor shut for routine safety checks has since been allowed to restart.

"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," said Otsu wearing white Buddhist clothes. "If we allow the situation as it is now, another accident will occur."

Protest organiser Masao Kimura said: "It's a symbolic day today. Now we can prove that we will be able to live without nuclear power."

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, told AFP during the rally.

When the fission reaction stops in the middle of Saturday night, Japan's entire stable of 50 reactors will be offline, despite increasingly urgent calls from the power industry and bodies like the OECD, who fear dire consequences for the world's third largest economy.

Last month, Kansai Electric Power, which supplies mid-western Japan, including the commercial hubs of Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe, said a hot summer could see supply fall nearly 20 percent short of demand.

Kyushu Electric Power, covering an area further west, as well as Hokkaido Electric Power also said they will struggle as air conditioning gets cranked up in Japan's sweltering summer.

Kansai Electric last month booked a $3 billion annual loss, turning around a $1.5 billion profit the year earlier on the increased cost of using previously mothballed thermal fuel plants.

A week earlier, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's government gave the green light to restarting reactors at the Oi nuclear plant, run by Kansai Electric, but regulators still have to convince those living near the plant.

In order to be fired up again, reactors must now pass International Atomic Energy Agency-approved stress tests and get the consent of their host communities -- it is this last hurdle that is proving hardest to overcome.

Critics of nuclear power say Japan has managed thus far with its ever dwindling pool of reactors and need not look back.

Environmental campaign group Greenpeace said Friday the country should concentrate on ramping up renewables and boosting energy efficiency.

"Despite the closure of all reactors, security of electricity supply is not threatened in Japan," said Hisayo Takada, Greenpeace Japan climate and energy campaigner.

Takada said recent warnings that another big earthquake could strike seismically volatile Japan at any time meant the technology was not to be trusted.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros
    Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros

    The militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) is calling for the pullout of US Marines who arrived in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last Wednesday to train Special Action Force (SAF) commandos and members of the allied forces. The SAF commandos and the allied forces will secure the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in this city. Bayan-Negros secretary general Christian Tuayon said the US troops might violate the human rights of activists, especially those …

  • China subs outnumber US fleet – admiral
    China subs outnumber US fleet – admiral

    China is building some “fairly amazing submarines” and now has more diesel- and nuclear-powered vessels than the United States, a top US Navy admiral told US lawmakers on Wednesday, although he said their quality was inferior. Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for capabilities and resources, told the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower subcommittee that China was also expanding the geographic areas of operation for its submarines, and their length of …

  • Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together
    Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — After spending 67 years together as devoted husband and wife, there was no question how Floyd and Violet Hartwig would end their lives — together. …

  • Pacman mega fight tax exemption up to Congress, BIR
    Pacman mega fight tax exemption up to Congress, BIR

    Malacañang is leaving it up to Congress and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to consider a proposed special tax exemption for boxing icon Manny Pacquiao in his much-awaited fight with Floyd Mayweather. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said yesterday it will have to be discussed by Congress because lawmakers are the ones who enact tax exemptions, special or general. Pacquiao has been dogged by unsettled tax obligations with the BIR. …

  • 3 Pinays on Forbes power women list
    3 Pinays on Forbes power women list

    Three Filipina executives, who are all daughters of known business tycoons in the country, made it to Forbes’ list of the 50 most powerful businesswomen in Asia. Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chairman of SM Investments and chairman of BDO Universal Bank, was included in the list for the fourth year in a row since its inception. “Under her (Sy-Coson) lead SMIC became the largest listed company on the Philippine Stock Exchange by market cap. Also in the 2015 list is 70-year-old Helen Yuchengco-Dee, …

  • Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA
    Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA

    Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday supported proposals to put Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo under house arrest. “Government prosecutors are opposing house arrest for… Enrile. Binay issued the statement after the 91-year-old Enrile was rushed to the Makati Medical Center on Thursday due to pneumonia. House arrest for him would be the compassionate thing to do,” he added. …

  • Hijacked Indonesian vessel found in Davao
    Hijacked Indonesian vessel found in Davao

    An Indonesian cargo vessel that was hijacked a month ago in North Sulawesi, Indonesia has been found stuck in the waters off Mati, Davao Oriental, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported yesterday. PCG spokesperson Armand Balilo said the PCG- Southeastern Mindanao district was informed on Feb. 23 that the M/T Rehoboth was found aground off Barangay Cabuaya. Four personnel from the local PCG district office were sent to verify the report. The vessel was reportedly hijacked by …

  • US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians
    US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians

    The US-led coalition has carried out air strikes against the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria, where the jihadists have launched a new offensive and kidnapped 220 Assyrian Christians. The raids on Thursday struck areas around the town of Tal Tamr in Hasakeh province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, without giving information on possible casualties. The town remains under the control of Kurdish forces, but at least 10 surrounding villages have been seized by IS, along …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options