Tepco to shut down last reactor in March

Kyodo

Tokyo Electric Power Co. will become totally reliant on thermal power on March 26 when it halts the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power plant’s remaining active reactor in Niigata Prefecture.

The move will take the last of Tepco’s 17 reactors out of service and also terminate power generation at the world’s largest nuclear plant, which has seven reactors.

Tepco’s other 16 reactors are already out of service.

The suspension of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa’s reactor 6, announced Thursday, will take the last of its seven reactors offline for regular checks. Unit 6 generates 1.356 million kw.

It will be the first time all 17 Tepco reactors have been halted since a three-week period in 2002, when it was forced into a total atomic shutdown after a whistle-blower revealed that Tepco was falsifying reports to cover up reactor-shroud cracks at its nuclear plants in Fukushima Prefecture. The shutdown lasted from April 15 to May 6.

At the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, reactors 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7 have been suspended for checks and by a major earthquake in 2007 that badly damaged the prefecture and its vicinity, including the plant.

On Jan. 25, Tepco suspended reactor 5 for checks, leaving 6 the only one in service at the plant and throughout the utility’s service area.

Tepco says it wants to restart the seven reactors in stages, starting in fiscal 2013 or later.

But Niigata Gov. Hirohiko Izumida said the factors that triggered the 2011 crisis at the six-reactor Fukushima No. 1 plant must be examined and identified before the seven are allowed to restart.

The nearby Fukushima No. 2 plant, also run by Tepco, has four reactors.

Of the nation’s 54 commercial reactors, only two will be in service — reactor 3 at the Tomari plant in Hokkaido and reactor 3 at the Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture. Both will go offline for regular checks by late April.