Japan's TEPCO to delay startup of Higashidori nuclear reactors

Author: Leslie Tan

2011/04/22

Japan's Tokyo Electric (TEPCO) will postpone the scheduled start-up of the 1.4GW No 1 and 2 reactors at its Higashidori nuclear power plant (NPP) in Aomori Prefecture, local media reported on Thursday.

"Since we'll be including some new insights [in the construction plans] in our tsunami and earthquake measures, the start of operations will be significantly postponed," TEPCO's Vice President Takashi Fujimoto was quoted by the Yomiuri Shimbun as saying.

Fujimoto indicated that the utility would make drastic changes to the designs for both reactors in light of the recent crisis at the 4.7GW Fukushima Daiichi NPP.

TEPCO originally planned to start up the No 1 reactor in March 2017 and the No 2 reactor around 2020.

The company had earlier said that it will postpone its plans to build a seventh and eighth reactor at the crippled Fukushima plant, and the latest statement by a senior company official indicated that all its plans for building new nuclear facilities will be put under review.

In a related development, the government said on Thursday that areas within 20km of the Fukushima Daiichi NPP would be made a no-entry zone.

Residents within the 20km zone have already been instructed to evacuate, and from Friday, people entering the area could be punished if they do so without permission from the authorities.

Under a special nuclear emergency law, people who enter the zone will now be subject to fines of up to yen (Y) 100,000 ($1,222) and a possible detention of up to 30 days. Up until now, defiance of the evacuation order has not been punishable by law.

($1 = Y81.82)