Nippon Steel's Nagoya plant suffers 4th power outage in 7 months

TOKYO, July 28 Mon Jul 28, 2014 12:30am EDT

TOKYO, July 28 (Reuters) - Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp said its Nagoya steel plant suffered another power failure on Sunday, the second in about a month and the fourth this year, causing a release of smoke from coke ovens in a process to burn off gas.

The plant in central Japan began gradually resuming operations from Sunday evening after the power outage early in the morning led to a shutdown of most of its main units and a release of smoke for about three hours, spokesman Masato Suzuki said.

"We are still investigating the reason for the incident. Most of the units at the plant including two blast furnaces had resumed operations by this morning," he said on Monday.

The Nagoya plant, which produced 6.74 million tonnes of crude steel in the business year that ended March 31, suffered a power failure and smoke release twice in January and once in June, leading to a shutdown of the entire plant.

The release of smoke in June, which lasted more than 12 hours, left soot and tar stains on about 23,000 Toyota Motor Corp vehicles parked at shipping yards in Aichi prefecture, central Japan. Toyota said it was likely to seek damages from Nippon Steel.

"We have not heard anything about health problems from neighbours or about damage at nearby companies, including automakers," Nippon Steel's Suzuki said of the latest incident.

Toyota spokesman Ryo Sakai said: "There has been no damage at the storage yard and also no impact on production."

Nippon Steel's Nagoya plant, which was built in 1958, is the company's fourth-biggest in Japan and its steel sheets are used for cars.

"We don't think the blackout was due to any deterioration in the system," Suzuki said.

He declined to say what impact the incidents in June and July would have on its steel output and profit for this year.

Nippon Steel, the world's second-biggest steelmaker by crude steel output, posted a group recurring profit - pretax and before one-off items - of 361 billion yen ($3.55 billion) in the last business year to March. It has said the power failure in January cut its profit by 8 billion yen.

To prevent further similar problems, it aims to bring forward the installation of a back-up power supply route for gas blowers for coke ovens from the planned date of end-March 2016. ($1 = 101.8200 Japanese Yen) (Reporting by Yuka Obayashi, Additional reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Alan Raybould)

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