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Tepco to scrap another nuclear plant in Fukushima

Staff Writer |
The operator of the disaster-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant said it is considering scrapping its other nuclear complex in Fukushima Prefecture that barely escaped critical damage in Japan's massive quake-tsunami disaster in 2011.

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It is the first time that Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. has spoken about the fate of the Fukushima Daini plant amid strong calls by the local government to get rid of all 10 reactors at the Daiichi and Daini plants in the prefecture.

"If (the status of the Daini complex) is left uncertain, it would hamper reconstruction (of the disaster-hit area)," Tepco President Tomoaki Kobayakawa told Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori as he explained the idea to decommission the Fukushima Daini, in addition to the crippled Daiichi plant.

Uchibori told Kobayakawa that "decommissioning is strongly desired by Fukushima residents." The governor also said at a press conference that he expects the latest move to mark "an important start" toward scrapping the Daini plant.

More than seven years have passed since the Fukushima nuclear accident, but the prefecture continues to struggle with reputational damage and some towns around the Fukushima Daiichi plant are still subject to evacuation orders due to radiation contamination.

In the nuclear crisis triggered by the quake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan in March 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi plant suffered meltdowns at three of its six reactors.

The Daini plant, located around 12 kilometers south of Daiichi, managed to avoid a critical situation although some of its reactors temporarily lost their key cooling functions.

Kobayakawa declined to explain to reporters the details of the decommissioning plan of the four Fukushima Daini units, which have been offline since the disaster. "I will think about a detailed schedule for decommissioning from now on," he said.

Up to now, Tepco had refrained from publicly saying what it would do with the Daini plant as the decision could affect its business.

But the prospect of gaining local approval to restart the reactors has been dim.

Upgrading the facilities to meet the tougher post-Fukushima crisis safety standards is also a costly project for Tepco, which is struggling with massive compensation payments and cleanup costs stemming from one of the world's worst nuclear crises.

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