Tohoku Electric Falls on Warning of Another Earthquake Fault

Tohoku Electric Power Co. fell the most in more than a week after it became the third utility to be told it may have built a nuclear plant near an active earthquake fault line.

The shares declined as much as 3.1 percent, heading for the biggest decline since Dec. 3, to 722 yen, on the Tokyo Stock Exchange today. They reversed the loss by 10:52 a.m. to trade at 747 yen, while the benchmark Tokyo Stock Price Index was little changed.

All but two of Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors are offline for safety checks following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami last year that wrecked an atomic plant in Fukushima prefecture, causing radiation leakage and mass evacuations. Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority are investigating six nuclear facilities, including Tohoku Electric’s Higashidori plant, for active earthquake faults.

“Utilities may be forced to delay restarting reactors under investigation even after the NRA sets up new safety standards” in July, Takashi Aoki, a Tokyo-based fund manager at Mizuho Asset Management Co., said by phone today.

Kunihiko Shimazaki, who leads the NRA investigation team, yesterday said the fault in question may be active after examining the geology of the area around the facility in Aomori prefecture, northern Japan, Jiji Press reported.

Earlier this week, shares of power utilities fell after another team of geologists appointed by the NRA said a fault under Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tsuruga No. 2 reactor is probably active. Kansai Electric Power Co. is running additional checks after an NRA team delayed a decision on whether a fault under its Ohi plant is active.

Both the Tsuruga and Ohi plants are on the coast north of Osaka in western Japan.

The NRA will run on-site checks of Kansai Electric’s Mihama plant, Hokuriku Electric Power Co.’s Shika facility and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency’s Monju fast-breeder for active faults next year, the Mainichi newspaper reported yesterday.

The group of five scientists is scheduled to complete the two-day investigation at the Higashidori plant today and will discuss the findings at a Dec. 20 meeting in Tokyo, according to the NRA.

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