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Nuclear Energy

Japan Shuts Down Last Nuclear Power Reactor

Just over a year since a magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake and subsequent tsunami created a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns, and release of radioactive materials at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, technicians closed down the last working nuclear reactor in the country.

At 11:03 pm local time on Saturday night, technicians closed down the No. 3 reactor at Tomari in Hokkaido. Hokkaido Electric Power brought the reactor to “cold shutdown” yesterday, said company spokesman Hisatoshi Kibayashi.

Unsurprisingly, this has reignited the discussion over whether Japan needs nuclear power, with a focus on the potential for power blackouts during the summer.

Tomari Nuclear Power Plant

This is the first time since the 1970s that Japan has been without nuclear power. Following the largest nuclear incident since Chernobyl in 1986, Japan made it through the summer without the Fukushima reactors by imposing restrictions on the use of electricity. To help reduce peak demand, for example, factories operated at night and on weekends in an effort to minimize the stress on the grid.

In a day and age where many countries are looking to renewable energy as a possible means of creating a more sustainable energy supply, this coming summer for Japan will be interesting. Opposition to shutting down the nuclear power plants (or installing new ones) will die down if there are no major blackouts and if renewable energy sources such as solar and wind can start making up the difference left by nuclear.

Source: Reuters and
Image Source: Mugu-shisai

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