World News

Small radiation leak at Japan nuclear power plant

TOKYO (Reuters) - Water containing a small amount of radioactivity has leaked from a nuclear power generation unit in Japan, owner Kansai Electric Power said on Tuesday, in the latest in a long line of problems in the tarnished industry.

Kansai Electric Power Co Inc, Japan’s second-biggest utility, said 3.4 tonnes of water had leaked from the 1,175-megawatt No.1 generating unit at its Ohi power station, but none had made it to the environment and it would stop generating electricity from the affected unit by around 11 p.m. (3 p.m. BST)

The problem at the Ohi plant, in Fukui prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast around 320 km (200 miles) west of Tokyo, follows years of scandals in Japan’s nuclear industry involving cover-ups and fudged safety records that have tarnished public faith in the sector.

Only this year, Kansai Electric restarted commercial operations at another nuclear power unit following Japan’s worst-ever nuclear plant accident more than two years ago, in which five workers were killed after being sprayed with steam and hot water from a broken pipe.

Kansai said it had discovered the problem at its Ohi plant on Monday evening and the leak was stopped that evening.

It said it would begin inspection of the affected unit after manually shutting down the plant around 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday (4:30 p.m. BST on Tuesday).

In July, there was a minor radiation leak at the world’s biggest nuclear power station, Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, after a major earthquake.

TEPCO, which services the Tokyo area, was forced to indefinitely shut down the plant, causing it to struggle to provide enough power to Tokyo during the sweltering, humid summer months when electricity consumption soars.