TOKYO, Sept 5 Japan's top steel maker Nippon
Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp said on Friday it hopes to
restart its Nagoya steel plant as soon as possible after it was
shutdown due to a fire on Wednesday, but it did not have a
The company received permission from local police and the
prefectural government on Thursday to resume operations at the
plant, except for a coke oven and its related facilities where
the fire started, on condition it ensured safety and soundness
of the facilities, a Nippon Steel spokeswoman said.
"We are checking all the facilities to ensure safety and
soundness. We hope to resume operations as soon as possible, but
we don't know when we can do that," she said.
A fire started on Wednesday at the plant's coal storage
facility and conveyor belt, near the coke oven. Fifteen people
were injured and the fire was extinguished early Thursday. It
was the fifth accident at the plant this year.
The cause of the fire has not been determined, but the
company assumes it broke out when coal reacted with oxygen
during the process of charging it for the coke oven.
The main facilities such as blast furnaces, a rolling mill,
and a heavy plates unit halted operations, while some processing
facilities such as a pipe plant and a galvanizing plant are
continuing to operate.
The Nagoya plant in central Japan, which produced 6.74
million tonnes of crude steel or about 15 percent of its total
output in the business year to March 31, has suffered power
failures and smoke releases four times from January to July.
The plant has stockpiles of most of its products, including
semi-finished steel, worth about two weeks, but some products
may run out as early as five days after the fire accident, the
"We plan to bring some products from our other plants if
needed, the spokeswoman said.
If the suspension of the facilities lasts long, it may
affect the supply of steel products to its major customers such
as automakers, including Toyota Motor Corp, Honda Motor
Co Ltd and Suzuki Motor Corp.
(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Michael Perry)