Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Japan plans new round of 'stress tests' on reactors

The "stress tests" are designed to show whether plants can stand up to extreme disasters such as the earthquake and tsunami that began the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in March.

All of Japan's reactors were shut down after the March 11 crisis. Only nineteen of the country's 54 reactors are operating because of delays in restarting plants where regular maintenance tests are being carried out.

The new safety tests will be similar to those currently being done on the 143 reactors in the European Union.

"There is no change in our view that [nuclear power] is safe," said Japan's economy, trade and industry minister, Banri Kaieda. "We are planning the stress tests to gain the understanding of local residents. We will get further confidence from the people and will restart operations at some plants."

Japan's government has said that if more reactors are not restarted, the country could see power shortages later in the summer, but officials are hesitant to reopen plants before the safety checks. Major power users have already been told to cut their peak usage by 15 percent in July to avoid blackouts (Justin McCurry, London Guardian, July 6). -- AP Full Article >>>

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