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    Hamaoka Nuclear Reactors Begin Shutdown in Southern Japan

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    Japan's Chubu Electric Power company has started shutting down its nuclear reactors in Hamaoka. It's at the request of the Japanese government. The plant, which lies on two tectonic plates, is in an area highly likely to be hit by an earthquake in the next 30 years.

    Hamaoka nuclear power plant, located 120 miles south of Tokyo, started its temporary shutdown on Friday, after an unprecedented request by Japan's prime minister.

    Prime Minister Naoto Kan said this was due to the plant's lack of defenses against major earthquakes and tsunamis.

    Kan said there is an 87 percent chance of a major earthquake within the next 30 years striking the area where the Hamaoka nuclear reactor is situated.

    [Banri Kaieda, Japan's Trade Minister]:
    "[Accidents] should never happen, and we will do all we can to ensure that accidents don't happen."

    The Hamaoka nuclear power plant is operated by Japan's Chubu Electric Power, the country's third-largest power company.

    According to a company spokesman, it will shut Hamaoka's 1,137 megawatt No.4 reactor on Friday and the 1,380 megawatt No.5 reactor on Saturday.

    The No.1 and No.2 reactors are being decommissioned, and the remaining 1,100 megawatt No.3 reactor has been shut for regular maintenance since last November.

    On Friday, Japan's trade minister said that Tokyo Electric Company's (TEPCO) power supply at the end of August will not be enough to meet the expected electricity demand in eastern Japan during the summer.

    TEPCO says it plans to restart thermal power plants that were shut after the March earthquake, in a bid to avoid power shortages during the peak season.