A unit at a thermal power plant in northeastern Japan was halted Thursday for a technical glitch, raising concerns over a potential blackout in Tokyo and surrounding areas, as the capital had the highest temperature for the month of June in nearly 150 years amid a simmering heatwave.
Joban Joint Power Co., operator of the Nakoso coal- and oil-fired power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, said the No.9 unit was suspended around 3 a.m. Thursday after vibrations were detected in a ventilator at the facility.
There is no immediate risk of a power outage, according to the company and the industry ministry. The company said that the plant, which supplies electricity to a wide swath of eastern Japan, including the Tokyo area, aims to restart the power supply by evening.
Still, the glitch was an ill-timed incident as power demand surged with Tokyo's temperature climbing to 36.4 C, the highest for June since comparable data became available in 1875, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.
The heatwave continues scorching Japan, prompting the ministry to urge businesses and households to conserve electricity in Tokyo and its surrounding areas for the fourth day in a row, saying a surge in power consumption for air conditioners could cause electricity shortage.
The situation is compounded as some power stations damaged by a strong earthquake in northeastern Japan in March also have compromised capacity.
According to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, 4,551 people were sent to hospitals for heatstroke or heat exhaustion across the country for the week ended Sunday, about four times greater than the same period a year ago.
Temperatures over 35 C were also observed in parts of Saitama and Gunma Prefecture, both north of Tokyo, according to the weather agency.
The agency and the environment ministry have issued a "heatstroke alert" in western and eastern Japan, urging people to stay hydrated and take off their masks outside.
Joban Joint Power is looking into the cause of the trouble at the 600,000-kilowatt unit, one of three operating units that can produce 1.45 million kilowatts in total.