Greenpeace reaction to Japan urging a halt to operations at three nuclear reactors

Feature story - May 6, 2011
The Japanese government is urging an electricity company to halt the operation of three reactors at a nuclear plant on the coast because of safety concerns.

The government is conducting safety reviews on all 54 nuclear plants in the country, following the nuclear disaster at Fukushima. The review will look at whether the plants can withstand a major earthquake or tsunami.

Greenpeace had this reaction to the announcement by the government:

“Greenpeace welcomes Prime Minister Kan’s request to close Hamaoka, one of the most dangerous nuclear reactors in Japan,” said Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Executive Director.

“Fukushima has provided a stark reminder of the consequences of nuclear power, and there are many other dangerous reactors still online. The government must continue to close and decommission existing plants, cancel all new reactor builds and put Japan on a course for a future powered by renewable sources of energy. Only then can the Japanese people feel their government is truly putting their safety first.”

The reactor plant the government wants halted, Hamaoka, is just 100 meters off the Pacific coast in central Japan. So far this is the only reactor site the government wants halted during the review to allow for implementation of safety measures. The government has a forecast from experts that notes there is a 90 per cent probability of a quake with magnitude of 8.0 or higher striking central Japan within 30 years.

An earthquake and tsunami on March 11 left more than 25,000 people dead and missing on the northeast coast and crippled the Fukushima nuclear plant. As a result of damage at the plant, fires and explosions caused radiation leaks. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from the area because of radiation.

The Japanese government, wanting to ensure that a major earthquake of tsunami doesn’t cause a second nuclear radiation disaster, asked the power company on Friday to suspend operations at the three reactors. The government said an accident at the site could have serious consequences.

There was no immediate agreement from the company, Chubu Electric Power Co., that it would shut down the reactors but media have reported that it said it would.

The company is proposing substantial work at the site to add a seawall and other measures. Work could take two to three years. At present, there is not a concrete barrier between the plant and the sea.