National

Tepco to check for faults under site of new atomic plant eyed in Aomori

JIJI, Staff Report

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. will start a geological survey by next April for a new nuclear power plant in Higashidori, Aomori Prefecture.

The survey through fiscal 2020 will use a 2-km tunnel to check a fault structure under the site, which is next to a nuclear power plant run by Tohoku Electric Power Co. that is suspected of having an active fault under it.

Tokyo Electric, or Tepco, is asking other utilities to join the project as building costs climb in reaction to the Fukushima disaster.

“It’s necessary to form a consortium for building a nuclear plant that is excellent in safety, technology and economy,” Tepco President Tomoaki Kobayakawa told a news conference in Tokyo.

Industry minister Hiroshige Seko said at a separate news conference that he hopes Tepco will fully coordinate with other utilities while paying close attention to local safety concerns.

The Higashidori plant would use the same type of boiling-water, light-water reactors at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant. Work on reactor 1 began in January 2011 but was suspended after the triple core meltdown in Fukushima that March. The site is now vacant.

Though most of Japan’s 39 reactors have been idled, efforts to capitalize on renewable energy have apparently hit a snag, with the powerful “nuclear village” of politicians, energy policy bureaucrats and big business branding renewables as too unstable and insecure for producing steady electricity at competitive prices.

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