Japan nuclear woes deepen with another shutdown

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TOKYO, Sep 19 (Reuters) A further Japanese power producer today shut a nuclear unit adding to strains on electricity supply a month after the closure of the world's largest nuclear plant, which supplies Tokyo.

Hokkaido Electric Power Co, one of the smallest utilities in Japan, said it had begun to shut the 579 megawatt Tomari No 1 nuclear power generation unit this evening after unspecified problems were found which resulted in its breaking operational rules.

The company is investigating the cause of the problem, a spokesman said. It did not know when the unit would be restarted.

It was not clear if the company will boost fuel purchases to make up for the nuclear unit closure.

Japan relies on nuclear energy for about a third of its energy needs. The operating safety and credibility of the industry has been in the spotlight in recent years.

After a government-led investigation earlier this year, many of Japan's 10 nuclear power plant operators admitted they had modified safety data in the past, including covering up unintended start-ups of reactors.

In July Tokyo Electric Power Co was forced to close all units at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant after an earthquake.

The largest nuclear power plant on the earth is closed indefinitely for safety reasons. Tokyo Electric has boosted consumption of oil as a result, REUTERS SG PM1847

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