Japan earthquake throws nuclear power plants into jeopardy

A 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck Japan on New Year's Day, and now debate has surfaced regarding the safety of nuclear power plants.

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The recent earthquake that struck just off the coast of Japan has brought back many memories of the nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima plant following the magnitude 9.0 earthquake in 2011.

Japan earthquake throws nuclear power plants into jeopardy 156156

Japan's most recent earthquake occurred on New Year's Day with the 7.6 magnitude quake striking 6.2 miles on the west coast of Japan's main island, around 186 miles from Tokyo. The earthquake caused widespread damage, so far it has killed more than 80 people, and has left thousands without power. Notably, 30% of Japan's energy supply is from nuclear power, and the world's largest is the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, owned by Tokyo Electric (Tepco).

Just days after the earthquake, regulators lifted a ban on the operation of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, which is located only 74 miles from the epicenter. Additionally, the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant has been offline since 2012 for safety violations. Furthermore, Tepco wants to get the plant up and running by the end of 2024, but residents and activists are strongly against the idea as they want to avoid another Fukushima event. These fears have only been exacerbated by the recent earthquake.

"The Japanese public is still generally less positive toward nuclear power now than they were before the Fukushima disaster," analysts at Rystad Energy wrote in a client note. "As a result, public sentiment - and potentially government policy - is likely to be sensitive to any new power-plant disruptions caused by the most recent quake or any future ones," Reuters reports

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