TEPCO warns of massive blackouts; urges conservation

on March 12 2011 3:18 PM
Caretakers carry a woman who is evacuated from a nursing home, which is located in the evacuation area near the Fukushima Daini nuclear plant, at a temporary shelter in Koriyama
Caretakers carry a woman who is evacuated from a nursing home, which is located in the evacuation area near the Fukushima Daini nuclear plant, at a temporary shelter in Koriyama Reuters

The Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has warned of massive blackouts across Japan, even affecting areas far removed from the direct impact of the earthquake, given that its power facilities were damaged by the quake.

TEPCO has asked residents and businesses to conserve electricity usage, citing that between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday (Japan time) it will not be able to provide the 38-million kilowatts of power that will likely be demanded.

The electric company further warned that it may have to periodically suspend power and otherwise provide electricity on a rotating/regional basis by Monday.

Japan’s Industry Minister Banri Kaieda pleades for restricted electricity usage.

TEPCO has also asked for assistance from other electric utilities.

TEPCO operates the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which released a small amount of radioactive material after official opened valves to release pressure inside the chamber which houses the reactors.

TEPCO has already shut down operations at its thermal and hydro power generation facilities.

Millions of Japanese households have also lost water and gas services, on top of missing electricity.

As of noon Saturday (Japan time), about 5.1-million households in the Tohoku and Kanto regions (the epicenter of the earthquake damage) were lacking electrical power. The Tohoku Electric Power Co. said it is trying to resume safe operations.

According to Tohoku Electric, electricity in Miyagi, Aomori, Iwate and Akita prefectures was cut off.

However, electricity supply for Tokyo and Gunma, Saitama, Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures has been restored.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan has visited the nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture as well as other areas in northeastern Japan damaged by the huge catastrophe.

“I realized the huge extent of the tsunami damage,” Kan said at a press conference after returning to Tokyo.

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