Tokyo: Hours after Japanese PM Naoto Kan denied reports of radiation leaks saying that, “No radiation leaks have been detected from Japan’s nuclear power stations,” a fire broke out in the turbine building of Onagawa nuclear plant in Miyagi Prefecture on Friday after an 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck Japan and triggered a huge tsunami, Kyodo News reported.
It was not immediately clear if there was a risk of a radioactive leak as a result of the fire at the plant operated by Tohoku Electric Power. Miyagi prefecture was one of the areas worst hit by the tsunami.
Kyodo also reported that an emergency core-cooling unit had been activated at Fukushima nuclear plant, without giving further details.
The earthquake had already raised concerns of radiation leaks earlier in the day as several of Japan’s nuclear power palnts are located in the quake-hit areas.
Nuclear plants on the Pacific coast in Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures had automatically shut following the massive earthquake that hit northeastern Japan.
The Japanese industry minister had added that there were no immediate reports from monitoring posts of fires or other abnormalities near the nuclear plants after the 2:46 pm quake.
According to the companies that operate these nuclear plants, the suspended power plants included the Onagawa plant in Miyagi Prefecture, operated by Tohoku Electric Power Co., and the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 plants in the adjacent Fukushima Prefecture, run by Tokyo Electric Power Co.
Tokyo Electric also said it kept operating the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant on the Sea of Japan coast in Niigata Prefecture, while Hokkaido Electric Power Co. reported no problems at its Tomari No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 plants in the northernmost main island.
There were no immediate signs of any problems at the Hamaoka nuclear plant on the Pacific coast in Shizuoka Prefecture, southwest of Tokyo, the prefectural government said.
Nuclear energy has been a part of Japan’s strategic priority since 1973. This as the Country is heavily dependent on imported fuel. According to reports, Japan became the world’s third largest nuclear power user in 2008, after it opened 7 new nuclear reactors. 3 on Honshu, and 1 each on Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku, and Tanagashima. These provide 34.5% of Japan’s electricity.
There are 55 operating nuclear reactors in Japan with a number of others in construction or being planned.
Quoted from DAILYBHASKAR.com – with inputs from AFP and Manichi Daily News.