Japan plant must be scrapped, says PM: Kyodo

TOKYO, March 31, 2011 (AFP) - Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said that the stricken nuclear plant at the centre of the world's worst atomic accident since Chernobyl in 1986 must be scrapped, Kyodo news reported on Thursday.

Kan told the Japanese Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii that the whole of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power station should be decommissioned, Kyodo said.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan leaves a cabinet meeting at the National Diet in Tokyo on March 30, 2011. AFP

Nearly three weeks on from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the situation at the plant remains unresolved after its reactor cooling systems were knocked out, triggering explosions and fires, and releasing radiation.

Japanese officials have previously hinted that the plant would be retired once the situation there has been stabilised, given the damage it has already sustained.

Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), operator and owner of the ageing Fukushima Daiichi plant (No. 1), on Wednesday said that the stricken reactors 1-4 would be decommissioned given the damage and the amount of seawater poured on them.

But the group's chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata hinted that reactors 5 and 6, which are in a stable cold shutdown, could be retained.

The utility is expected to face a mammoth compensation bill amid growing public anger about how it has handled the crisis.

TEPCO's president has not been seen in public since March 13 and the company said Wednesday he had been hospitalised with high blood pressure.

There has also been growing speculation the company may be nationalised.

TEPCO on Wednesday said it had secured 2 trillion yen ($24 billion) in bank loans but warned this would not be enough to keep the company running amid concerns it may collapse under the financial strain of the crisis.

Kan also said Thursday he will look into reviewing plans to build at least 14 more nuclear reactors by 2030 as a result of the ongoing crisis, Shii said.

Under Japan's basic energy plan endorsed in June 2010, the government said nuclear power will be the country's core energy source in the medium and long term, and aimed to build 14 or more nuclear reactors by 2030, nine of them to be completed by 2020.

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