Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Japan announces possible closure of 54 nuclear reactors

The 54 Japanese nuclear reactors could be closed in April 2012, adding more than 30 billion dollars annually to the country's energy bill, if communities object to the operations by security fears, officials said Wednesday the Ministry of Commerce . Since the earthquake and tsunami of 11 March, which triggered a crisis of radiation in the Fukushima Daiichi plant north of Tokyo, the concern of local authorities has prevented the resumption of at least four reactors stopped for maintenance and routine inspections .

Several other reactors have been arrested since then for maintenance, reducing nuclear generating capacity in Japan to seven thousand 580 megawatts, or 36 percent of registered nuclear capacity. The Japanese index of average nuclear activity fell in May to 40.9 percent, the lowest in at least a decade, well below the 62.1 percent a year earlier.

Before the earthquake and tsunami, which forced the closure of three other plants in addition to the Fukushima Daiichi plant of Tokyo Electric Power, nuclear power supplied about 30 percent of Japan's electricity. While a reactor is legally authorized to resume operations once it receives approval from the Agency for Nuclear and Industrial Safety, an agency of the Ministry of Commerce, nuclear operators also seek local government approvals.

If none of the reactors closed for maintenance were resumed after the disaster, that would cost 2.4 billion yen (U.S. $ 30 billion) extra to offset the loss of power generation during the financial year ending March 2012, according to calculations of the Ministry of Commerce. If all the reactors in Japan finished off line, the additional cost would climb to three trillion yen per year, as the use of renewable energy remains limited, and Japan would have to import more fossil fuels.

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