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Earthquake closes large nuclear power plant in Japan

The nuclear power industry in Japan suffered a blow after a large earthquake damaged the Kashiwazaki Kariwa power p...


The nuclear power industry in Japan suffered a blow after a large earthquake damaged the Kashiwazaki Kariwa power plant about 250 kilometres northwest of Tokyo in mid July. The tremors, which measured between 6.6 and 6.8 on the Richter scale initially caused a small fire in an electrical plant, but there was also a leak of radioactive material into the sea and reports of other problems.
The United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been monitoring the situation and is sending an international team of experts to investigate. Japan initially refused the UN agency’s offer of help.
Operated by the Tokyo Electric Power company, the Kashiwazaki Kariwa plant is the biggest in the world in terms of capacity. It will remain closed indefinitely.
Japan has 54 other nuclear power stations that are now undergoing emergency safety checks.
The UN agency suggested that early data shows the Kashiwazaki Kariwa plant had not been designed to resist earthquakes of such a magnitude as the one that hit July 16. A report in Guardian Unlimited said that the plant’s officials had reported more than 50 problems as the cause of the quake.
Japanese newspapers were predicting that the plant’s closure could cost the Tokyo Electric Power company at least $1.6 billion.