Japan To Halt 3 Nuclear Reactors

Utility instructed to halt all three reactors at a power plant in central Japan because of safety concerns in the event of a major earthquake and tsunami.

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's prime minister said Friday he instructed a utility to halt all three reactors at a power plant in central Japan because of safety concerns in the event of a major earthquake and tsunami.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the measure was to ensure safety, citing experts' forecast of a 90 percent probability of a major quake striking the central region within 30 years.

The government has asked operator Chubu Electric Power Co. to suspend two running reactors and a third shut for a regular inspection at its coastal Hamaoka nuclear plant in Shizuoka, west of Tokyo.

"If an accident occurs at Hamaoka, it could create serious consequences," Kan said.

Kan's action followed a safety review of all Japan's nuclear plants after the radiation crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, which was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that also left more than 25,000 people dead and missing on the northeast coast.

The Hamaoka plant is the only one where operations have been ordered halted until the utility can implement safety measures. The plant is about 155 miles (250 kilometers) west of Tokyo.

The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant lost its power and cooling systems, triggering fires, explosions and radiation leaks in the world's second-worst nuclear accident.

Radiation leaks from the Fukushima plant have forced 80,000 people living within a 12-mile (20-kilometer) radius to leave their homes. Many are staying in gymnasiums and community centers.

Residents in Shizuoka have long demanded suspension of the Hamaoka reactors.

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