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Japan to Close Nuclear Reactors after 40 Years
January 8, 2012

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Amid a continuing review of what went wrong in the wake of the 2011 Sendai earthquake and tsunami, Japan has announced that it will force nuclear reactors to close their doors after 40 years of use.

The Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, which went into meltdown after the tsunami, was built in 1967, so it would be shut down. The government said fully decommissioning the plant could take up to 40 years.

Other reactors in the central part of the country are approaching the 40-year stage. Japan has 54 reactors in total, and only six are running, following the government's order of a comprehensive review and community approval as part of each reactor's routine inspections.

The proposal will take the form of legislation, with which the government would include provisions for reactors to stay open if they have a spotless record. The proposed law is similar to a United States law, under which 66 (so far, of a total of 104) U.S. reactors have been granted a 20-year operating extension.

A large part of Japan's electricity generation comes from the nuclear plants, and the country could face a power shortage if other reactors are not brought back in line.

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