A powerful typhoon was bearing down on Japan’s tsunami-ravaged northeastern coast Wednesday, approaching a nuclear power plant crippled in that disaster and prompting calls for the evacuation of more than a million people.
Roke was about 80 kilometers (50 miles) east of the Kii peninsula, where 67 people died in a typhoon earlier this month, at 11 AM local time and is expected to make landfall near Nagoya around 3 p.m., the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
Toyota Motor Corp plans to close 11 factories of its 15 plants in central Japan early on Wednesday, eliminating evening shifts, while utility Chubu Electric Power has lost about 1,870 megawatts of hydro power output due to the typhoon.
“The second (afternoon) shift is stopped. (It is) not resuming today. No decision has been made for tomorrow,” company spokesman Dion Corbert told AFP on Wednesday.
The affected plants are all in Aichi prefecture in central Japan, which sits in the expected path of Typhoon Roke.
Toyota’s remaining four plants in Japan are in Hokkaido, Tohoku and Kyushu, and are not expected to be affected by the storm, Corbert said.
The automaker will make up for lost output by increasing production on subsequent shifts, a company spokeswoman said. She declined to say how much production would beaffected as a result of the early closures.
Also in the path of the storm is the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, which started spewing radiation after it was sent into meltdown by the tsunami.
Roke may hinder work to control leakage of radioactive water near the nuclear power plant in Fukushima. Much of the utility’s work is focusing on decontaminating highly radiated cooling water, which has ran off into basements and trenches surrounding the damaged reactors.