Japan still considering total nuclear power pullout

PARIS Tue Oct 18, 2011 11:24am EDT

Members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) International Remediation Expert Mission to Japan examine No.3 reactor at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima prefecture October 11, 2011. Picture taken October 11, 2011.  REUTERS/IAEA/Handout

Members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) International Remediation Expert Mission to Japan examine No.3 reactor at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima prefecture October 11, 2011. Picture taken October 11, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/IAEA/Handout

PARIS (Reuters) - Japan has not ruled out the possibility of complete closure of its nuclear power stations as one option for the country's future energy policy after the world's worst nuclear accident in 25 years, economy minister Yukio Edano said.

"I am certain that we are going to reduce nuclear power generation but whether we are going to reduce it to zero is a separate issue," Edano, the economy, trade and industry minister told Reuters on the sidelines of a ministerial meeting hosted by the International Energy Agency in Paris.

Asked whether pulling out of nuclear was being considered, Edano said: "Yes, it is still under consideration."

Earlier Edano told a press briefing that Japan was working on improving its energy efficiency and would promote the development of renewable energy sources and of gas powered generation plants to make up for lost nuclear output.

Japan's former prime minister Naoto Kan concluded in March that nuclear power was no longer worth the risk after an earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima power plant.

But his successor Yoshihiko Noda has signaled that nuclear power could play a role for decades and pro-nuclear interests are quietly campaigning for their sector.

The government has let a panel of experts begin a debate on Japan's energy policy.

Public concern about safety leapt after the Fukushima accident, which forced 80,000 people from their homes and sparked fears about food and water supply. Some 70 percent of voters polled in July backed Kan's call to phase out nuclear plants.

A series of scandals in which regulators and power companies tried to sway hearings on reactors has also dented public trust.

Noda has acknowledged that public safety concerns will make it tough to build new reactors, but has stopped short of saying atomic power would play no role at all by 2050.

He said decisions on reactors already under construction would have to be made "case-by-case."

(Reporting By Marie Maitre; Additional reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro and Linda Sieg in Tokyo; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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Comments (3)
It is a shame that nuclear energy must be abandoned due to the damage that is possible during a catastrophic event such as an earthquake or tsunami, or human error. Minus those conditions, nuclear energy is the most affordable and efficient energy available to man at this point. Three-Mile Island, Chernobyl, and, now, Japan have had such a negative impact on nuclear energy that most countries in the world are now considering reducing use of it. Radioactive waste and how to handle it has posed yet another obstruction to making the most of the power nuclear energy can provide and continue to provide economically and infinitely. Perhaps a day will come when human beings have figured out ways to harness that energy in a means that uses its full potential with less risk.

Oct 18, 2011 10:53am EDT  --  Report as abuse
graceaaron wrote:
See the following article that articulates how nuclear power plants are vulnerable to terrorist attacks:

http://open.salon.com/blog/grace_aaron/2011/09/08/a_nuclear_9-11

Oct 18, 2011 12:14pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
jcaple wrote:
Japan would be making a terrible mistake by giving up nuclear power. They want to replace it with Gas and people who support the environment are ok with this? Yes, they mention renewables but Japan is very limited there. Nuclear Power is Carbon Neutral.

Comments below mention nuclear power needs less risk and is a terrorist threat. How many people have died from Fukushima? Oh right, ZERO. The biggest tsunami I’ve ever heard of that kills thousands of people and only damages a couple nuclear plants along the coast which killed no one. How much less risk can you ask for? Nuclear Power is extremely safe.

The terrorism article posted below is straight up fear mongering by people who don’t understand nuclear power. Nuclear plants don’t have highly enriched fuel and cannot blow up like a nuclear bomb. Chernobyl could never happen in the US because the US has these things called regulations that are actually followed. Please do more research into this great carbon neutral baseload power source.

Oct 18, 2011 3:47pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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