TOKYO, March 26 (UPI) -- All but one of Japan's 54 commercial nuclear power reactors are shut down after Tokyo Electric Power Co. took a reactor out of service Monday, officials said.
Tepco powered down the No. 6 reactor at its seven-unit Kashiwazaki-Kariwa complex in Niigata prefecture, leaving only the No. 3 unit of Hokkaido Electric Power Co.'s Tomari plant operating, Kyodo News reported. the Hokkaido unit will be shut down by early May for a routine checkup, the Japanese news service said.
Japan began idling its nuclear power plants in the wake of the devastating March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that heavily damaged Tepco's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Prior to the catastrophe, nuclear power had provided nearly one-third of Japan's electricity.
Kyodo said Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and members of his Cabinet are expected to hold talks in the coming days to come up with procedures for reactivating two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Oi power plant in Fukui prefecture. The country's Nuclear Safety Commission recently signed off on results of initial stress tests on those reactors.
Tepco President Toshio Nishizawa has said the utility "will make utmost efforts to secure a stable supply" of electricity this summer when demand spikes. Kyodo said the government estimates without nuclear power there would be a nearly 10 percent shortfall in available power if the country goes through another hot summer as it did in 2011.