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Last Updated: Friday, 3 September 2004, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK
Japan nuclear firm reopens plants
A burst cooling pipe at the Mihama power station in Japan
A burst cooling pipe caused the accident at the Mihama plant
Japan has allowed the utility giant Kansai Electric Power Co (Kepco) to resume operations at two of its 11 nuclear reactors.

Last month, Kepco announced the temporary closure of all its reactors, following the worst-ever accident in Japan's nuclear power industry.

Four men were killed and seven injured when a corroded pipe exploded at a plant at Mihama, in western Japan.

The workers were showered with scalding water, and suffered severe burns.

Kepco said it would soon reopen a unit at its Takahama plant and another at its site in Ohi, as it had received approval from the central and local governments.

Operations will resume as early as Sunday, Kepco said in a statement.

The reactor at Mihama remains closed for now, as Kepco needs to replace two of its pipes, a company spokesman told Reuters news agency.

The disaster on 9 August was the latest in a series of accidents at Japanese nuclear power stations, which have undermined public confidence in the industry.

Japan has a total of 52 nuclear reactors and relies on atomic energy for more than one-third of its energy needs.

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