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Oil Plunges As Iran Conflict Cools

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Japan's Final Nuclear Reactor to Close in May

Following last year’s nuclear disaster at Fukushima caused by the catastrophic meltdown of three reactors due to an earthquake and subsequent tsunami, Japanese confidence in nuclear power has plummeted.

A veritable powerhouse in the nuclear power industry before the incident, Japan now has only one of its 54 reactors running, after another was closed down today. Its reactors are being idled in order to undergo safety check-ups, and general maintenance.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) shut down its final reactor today, meaning that none of its 17 reactors are running at the moment. A spokesman for Hokkaido Electric Power Company, owner of Japans last working reactor, said that the plant “will go through a regular check-up from May 5, which is expected to end in August,” which means that for several months over the summer Japan will be producing no electricity from nuclear sources. Japan’s government are warily watching the spiking electricity demand during the hot and humid summer months, but are promising that there should be no power shortages. TEPCO president Toshio Nishizawa said that, “we are expected to secure a stable supply of electric power for the time being.”

All of Japans nuclear reactors must pass stress tests carried out by the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, and then receive approval from another government safety department. However it is only then that the real test comes. Energy utilities must gain the consent of local communities to restart their reactors. No easy task following the drop in confidence in nuclear power after the meltdown at Fukushima irradiated a large area of the surrounding countryside, forcing tens of thousands to leave their homes, and rendering vast swathes of farmland useless. Many utilities may not receive the consent they need to put their reactors back online.

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com



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