World News

Japan nuclear plants safe if big quake hit - operators

File photo of Tokyo Electric Power Co's (TEPCO) Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Kashiwazaki. REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s nuclear power plants will be safe even if they were hit with a powerful tremor like that which shut the world’s biggest nuclear plant in northwestern Japan in July, the operators said on Thursday.

All the nation’s nuclear operators said in statements that a repeat of the earthquake that hit Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in July would not affect the plants’ ability to shut and cool down nuclear reactors and isolate the radioactive materials.

The 6.8-magnitude quake that hit TEPCO’s plant on July 16 was more powerful than nuclear plants are generally designed to withstand such a tremor but would not affect the plants’ safety, the operators said.

Japan’s trade ministry had requested a comprehensive safety report from all nuclear operators after the July quake.

Fears about the safety of Japan’s nuclear industry were revived when radioactive water leaked from the TEPCO plant after the tremor. The earthquake killed 11, injured more than 1,000 and flattened hundreds of homes.

Nine utilities and a wholesaler operate 17 nuclear power plants in Japan.