Subj: (GDR) Japan's TEPCO restarts quake-hit nuclear reactor
Date: 8/6/00 9:34:37 PM Pacific Daylight Time
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Japan's TEPCO restarts quake-hit nuclear reactor

TOKYO, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Japan's biggest utility, Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc, said on Monday it had restarted a 1,100-megawatt nuclear reactor after finding a rise in waste gas was due to a cracked pipe caused by an earthquake.

The reactor in Fukushima, about 250 kilometres (155 miles) northeast of Tokyo, was closed on July 21 after an earthquake under the seabed about 100 km northeast of Tokyo, and was restarted from Sunday.

Air crept into the system through a crack, resulting in an increase in waste gas -- fumes from the nuclear generator.

``A crack of about two centimetres was discovered. We found the quake caused the crack, prompting the rise in waste gas,'' a TEPCO spokesman said.

No radiation leaked into the environment from the incident.

Three other TEPCO nuclear reactors -- two at its Fukushima plants and one at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa in Niigata, some 300 km northeast of the capital -- were shut in July due to malfunctions and the firm has not given any restart estimates.

Japan has 51 commercial nuclear reactors providing about 30 percent of the country's electricity, but public anger after several accidents over the past five years -- including its worst disaster last September in which two uranium plant workers died -- has forced delays in the government's nuclear programme.

TEPCO's shares ended the morning up 25 yen or 0.98 percent at 2,575 yen.

00:03 08-07-00