Fukushima operator shutting down last running reactor

Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, has begun steps to suspend operations at its last running nuclear reactor in order to carry out checks.

The No. 6 unit at the company's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant is expected to be shut down early on Monday, leaving all of the 17 reactors idle, including three units which have suffered a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi.

The No. 6 unit is scheduled to undergo checks for about two and a half months.

As a result, only one of Japan's 54 commercial nuclear reactors will remain online. It is a unit at Hokkaido Electric Power Co.'s plant on Hokkaido, northern Japan.

But that reactor is also due to be shut down in early May for scheduled maintenance work.

"We are expected to secure a stable supply of electric power for the time being," Tokyo Electric president Toshio Nishizawa said in a statement.

"But we call on the customers to continue cooperating in saving electricity within a reasonable range."

A 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing massive tsunami ravaged Japan's northeast coast in March last year, leaving 19,000 dead and sparking meltdowns at the Fukushima plant, some 220 kilometres (140 miles) northeast of Tokyo.

Due to safety worries following the worst nuclear accident in 25 years many power utilities cannot restart reactors even after undergoing regular checks.

Despite the government's declaration in December that the crippled Fukushima plant had been brought to a stable "cold shutdown" state, 92 percent are worried about it, a survey has said.

  • Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day 11 hours ago
    Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day

    If there's one car that's particularly sought-after among today's well-heeled car collectors, a Ferrari 250 would be it. Usually it's the GTO variant, like the 1963 that sold for a record $52 million last year. A 250 of any sorts demands unfathomable cash, however, which is why we can but gawk at this 250 Testa Rossa. It's as close as any mere mortal will ever come to owning one.

  • Peeling out at Octane Academy, the free driving school for Ford ST owners 12 hours ago
    Peeling out at Octane Academy, the free driving school for Ford ST owners

    Buyers of Ferraris or Jaguars are used to perks from manufacturers – including racetrack lessons to help master their exotic machines. But for enthusiasts on a tighter budget, the Ford ST Octane Academy might be the sweetest deal in motoring: Buy a Ford Fiesta ST or Focus ST hatchback, and the reward is a free day of training at one of America’s longest, most-lavish road courses.

  • Why you can't buy America's greenest car 15 hours ago
    Why you can't buy America's greenest car

    Ask me or any auto expert what's the fastest car you can buy for any given amount, and we could easily cough up several options. Same for most luxurious, or off-roadable, or any other measurement. Yet there's one type of question that's far harder to answer: What's the greenest, most environmentally friendly car you can buy today?

  • Pirates kidnap three on Singapore tanker off Malaysia
    Pirates kidnap three on Singapore tanker off Malaysia

    Armed pirates boarded a Singapore-managed oil tanker in the Strait of Malacca, kidnapping three Indonesian crew and stealing some of the vessel's shipment of diesel fuel, the International Maritime Bureau said Wednesday. The attack occurred early Tuesday off Malaysia's west coast, said Noel Choong, head of IMB's Kuala Lumpur-based piracy reporting centre. The diesel oil tanker was believed to be en route to Myanmar. "IMB is aware of the attack on the Singapore-managed ship in the Malacca Straits.

  • David Moyes statement after Man United firing
    David Moyes statement after Man United firing

    Statement released by David Moyes on Wednesday, a day after Manchester United announced he left as manager after less than a season in charge.

  • McDonald's Hello Kitty sale site temporarily suspended due to fresh wave of Kitty mania
    McDonald's Hello Kitty sale site temporarily suspended due to fresh wave of Kitty mania

    It may not be safe to enter a McDonald’s restaurant in Singapore on Mondays starting 28 April. To celebrate the iconic Japanese character Hello Kitty’s 40th anniversary, the fast food chain announced last Friday that it would be releasing a new collection of Hello Kitty toys in McDonald’s restaurants island wide next Monday.