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Fukushima Crisis Worse for Atomic Power Than Chernobyl, UBS Says

The crisis unfolding at the stricken Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant north of Tokyo is likely to hurt the nuclear power industry’s credibility more than the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, UBS AG said.

The accident in the former Soviet Union 25 years ago “affected one reactor in a totalitarian state with no safety culture,” UBS analysts including Per Lekander and Stephen Oldfield wrote in a report today. “At Fukushima, four reactors have been out of control for weeks -- casting doubt on whether even an advanced economy can master nuclear safety.”

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has been working to stop radiation leaks since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out the plant’s cooling systems, resulting in a partial meltdown of some reactors. Natural gas producers OAO Gazprom and Woodside Petroleum Ltd. are among companies set to benefit as countries shift away from nuclear power, UBS said.

“We believe gas will be the main winner from any nuclear power plant closures and scaled back new-build plans,” the analysts, including Jim von Riesemann and Pankaj Srivastav, wrote.

Woodside, Gazprom, EDF SA, E.ON AG, Korea Electric Power Corp., TECO Energy Inc., Public Service Enterprise Group Inc., General Electric Co., Siemens AG and Shanghai Electric Group Co. are expected to gain after the crisis in Japan because of a reduced reliance on nuclear power, higher fuel or power prices or an overreaction by investors, according to the report.

“We believe the Fukushima accident was the most serious ever for the credibility of nuclear power,” the analysts said.

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