Japan nuclear decision could affect UK energy

On Friday Japan’s Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, made a surprise request to Utility provider Chubu to halt operations at the Hamaoka nuclear facility. The news means that doubts are setting […]

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By Tom Gibson

On Friday Japan’s Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, made a surprise request to Utility provider Chubu to halt operations at the Hamaoka nuclear facility.

The news means that doubts are setting in over the future of Britain’s nuclear re-processing site Sellafield, who had planned for Hamaoka to become a major customer.

Re-processed fuel from the plant is intended to get shipped to Japan. However, the Japanese PM is apparently concerned that the Hamaoka facility is too at risk from an earthquake- experts say the Shizuoka prefecture is well overdue seismic activity. A serious incident could result in the evacuation of Tokyo, which is only 200km away.

A spokesperson for Sellafield remained confident it was still business as usual for the plant: “The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has a contract to manufacture MOX fuel for Chubu in the Sellafield Mox Plant, which was signed in 2010. Preparations for the manufacturing of this fuel are ongoing and it is not intended that it will be shipped for several years. We will be discussing with Chubu at the earliest opportunity what impacts, if any, will result from this latest announcement.”

Chubu Electric are expected to make a final decision later on today about the Hamaoka plant’s future. This latest news adds fresh doubts to the international issue of nuclear power as a fuel for the future.

Shares in the power supplier dropped sharply, causing uncertainty across the board. It is rumored investors are concerned that the closure of the plant could have a wide spread knock-on affect on other Japanese facilities.