SENDAI – Tohoku Electric Power Co. on Thursday dropped its plan to build a new nuclear plant in Fukushima Prefecture.
The utility apparently decided it was impossible to go through with the construction amid strong local opposition following the triple meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant. The site also falls within the fallout evacuation zone. The plan was excluded from the firm’s management plan for fiscal 2013 released later Thursday.
Tohoku Electric had been in the process of acquiring around 150 hectares of land in the town of Namie and in Odaka Ward, Minamisoma, but has faced strong local opposition. Namie is presently deserted, its residents forced to evacuate due to radioactive fallout from Fukushima No. 1.
The planned construction site was flooded with tsunami after the Great East Japan Earthquake, and the area was designated an evacuation zone. It is located some 10 km north of Fukushima No. 1, which is situated in the towns of Okuma and Futaba.
Since the nuclear crisis erupted, Fukushima Prefecture has supported the phaseout of atomic energy, and the municipal assemblies of Namie and Minamisoma have passed resolutions to stop attracting nuclear plants to the area.
The utility has yet to acquire all the land it sought. But in a plan unveiled last March, a reference on when to start construction and operation, previously stated as fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2021, was changed to “undecided.”
Tohoku Electric President Makoto Kaiwa has said it would be difficult to build a new plant in the radiation evacuation zone.
The utility currently operates two nuclear plants, one in the town of Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, that safely shut down when the 3/11 megaquake hit, and one in Higashidori, Aomori Prefecture, that went idle as a result of the Fukushima crisis.
Tohoku Electric is expected to stick with its plan to build a second reactor at the Higashidori facility.
However, the Nuclear Regulation Authority has said there is a high possibility that an active fault runs underneath the Higashidori plant, meaning the existing reactor may never be restarted and a new one may not be built.
Tepco meanwhile has dropped plans to build two more reactors at the crippled six-reactor Fukushima No. 1 facility.