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Brief fire at Japan nuke plant, no radiation

Date Posted: 2000-03-05

A fire broke out at a power plant last week, but was extinguished after half an hour and there was no danger of radiation, a utility spokesman said on Thursday. The accident was recorded at the Onagawa Number One nuclear plant, owned by Tohoku Electric Power Co., Inc. It occurred in the basement of a building not directly involved in nuclear power generation, the spokesman for the power company said.

The 524-megawatt reactor at Onagawa, about 300 km (186 miles) north of Tokyo, was shut down for maintenance on January 17th and was set to resume operations in early April. Last September, Japan was shocked by the nation's worst-ever nuclear accident at a uranium processing plant in Tokaimura, about 140 km (90 miles) northeast of Tokyo. That accident, caused by workers putting seven times the proper amount of condensed uranium into a mixing tank, exposed 440 people to radiation, including one plant worker who later died.

Despite last Septemberís accident, the government maintains that resource-poor Japan, whose 51 nuclear reactors provide about 30% of its energy needs, will forge ahead with its nuclear power program, which calls for another 20 reactors to be built by the year 2010.

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