Japan switches off last nuclear reactor as part of stress test

All over the country, nuclear reactors are powering down as part of a nationwide stress test to gauge the safety of Japan's 50 nuclear reactors, which have a total generating capacity of 46,148 MW

Tokyo, May 7, 2012 — Plant operator Hokkaido Electric Power Co. shut off the last functioning nuclear reactor in Japan, leaving the country without atomic power for the first time in four decades.

All over the country, nuclear reactors are powering down as part of a nationwide stress test to gauge the safety of Japan's 50 nuclear reactors, which have a total generating capacity of 46,148 MW.

The four nuclear units at Fukushima Daiichi, epicenter of the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, were fully shut down since a month ago.

With its nuclear reactors idle, Japan has lost nearly a third of its peak generating capacity. The country has increased imports of coal and gas to try to avoid blackouts as temperatures rise in the summer months.

Following the nuclear disaster, the local communities surrounding these shut down plants have been reluctant to support turning them back on, according to reports.

Before the disaster, Japan was the world's third heaviest user of nuclear energy, following the U.S. and France. Japan formerly generated 30 percent of its power from nuclear power plants.

Before the disaster, Japan was the world's third heaviest user of nuclear energy, following the U.S. and France. Japan formerly generated 30 percent of its power from nuclear power plants.

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