TEPCO delays nuclear plant project by 1 year-paper

TOKYO Fri Jan 4, 2008 9:16pm EST

TOKYO Jan 5 (Reuters) - Tokyo Electric Power Co (9501.T), the nation's top utility, will postpone its planned construction of a nuclear reactor in northern Japan by one year to comply with tougher safety rules, Japanese business daily Nikkei reported on Saturday.

TEPCO had planned to start building a reactor at the Higashidori nuclear power plant in Aomori prefecture, northern Japan, in fiscal 2008/09 that starts in April.

But now with the delay, the plant will probably become operational from fiscal 2015/16, a year later than TEPCO had planned, the newspaper added.

The tougher screening process has been in place since a powerful earthquake last July led to a shutdown of TEPCO's Kashiwazaki-Karima nuclear plant in the northwest of the country because of radiation leaks and a string of other problems caused by the quake.

Following the earthquake, the government ordered safety reviews of all nuclear power plants, including those still in the planning stage.

As these safety rules require detailed examinations of geological conditions and formation of planned sites, TEPCO may have to conduct additional geographical surveys, including studying underwater faults, for the new Higashidori reactor, the Nikkei reported.

The nuclear run rate has already been hovering at a relatively low level in Japan since TEPCO shut down its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, the world's largest nuclear plant. (Reporting by Yoko Nishikawa; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

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