Japan Shuts Down Tomari Nuclear Plant

May 25, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. demonstrator (n.) [dem-uhn-strey-ter] – someone who joins a crowd of people to support or disapprove an issue
ExampleDemonstrators marched in the streets asking the government to end the war.

2. meltdown (n.) [melt-doun] – a melting process that happens at nuclear power plants when reactors are not properly cooled, leading to a release of radiation
Example: The meltdown at the power plant made people worry about their health and safety.

3. battery (n.) [bat-uh-ree] – a big group of related objects or ideas
Example: The equipment went through a battery of tests to show that it is working properly.

4. go-ahead (idiom) [goh-uh-hed] – permission or agreement to start or continue an activity
Example: The president must give the go-ahead before the information can be shown to the public.

5. blackout (n.) [blak-out] – the loss of electricity or power in an area
Example: The storm damaged power lines, causing a blackout in the city for days.

Article(10 minutes)
Read the text below.

 For the first time in 42 years Japan  has become independent of nuclear energy as the final nuclear reactor was shut down in Tomari, Hokkaido last May 5.

The last nuclear reactor was switched off for a routine check, a safety procedure that all other reactors underwent after the meltdown at the Fukushima plant in March 2011. Before the plants were shut off, 30% of Japan’s energy was being supplied by nuclear power.

The plants will only restart if they can pass a battery of tests against earthquakes and tsunamis. The approval of each local government officials is also needed before the plants can restart. But local leaders have not been too quick to give the go-ahead because of strong public opinion against the reactors.

An estimated 5,500 demonstrators celebrated in Tokyo after the shutdown in Tomari was completed. Protestors said their efforts had stopped the running of many nuclear plants in Japan.

The government, on the other hand, wants to continue operations of the Ohi plant in Fukui, since two of the reactors there have been declared safe to use. Ministers are worried Japan may face blackouts in the coming summer.

Business owners are also concerned about the effects of the lack of energy on the production of goods.

However, if blackouts can be avoided in the summer, the demands to completely stop nuclear operations could increase.

Meanwhile, in order to keep enough supply of energy, Japan has started to import more fossil fuel. Electric companies have also reopened some of their old power plants to help provide energy.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you think people should continue to use nuclear energy? Why or why not?
·         If it were possible for your country to replace nuclear energy with any other kind of energy source, what would you choose? Why choose it?

Discussion B

·         Have you ever experienced a blackout? What would you do if you a blackout were to happen?
·         What do you think would be the effects of a very long blackout in the area where you live?


May 25, 2012