Carmakers, nuclear plant halt operations after Japan quake

Aftershocks from Monday’s earthquake in Japan continue to be felt — and not the kind that shake the ground. Yesterday, officials ordered the nuclear plant that was damaged in the quake to shut down indefinitely while operators assess and fix some 53 problems discovered over the course of the last few days. They also acknowledged that the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa facility, run by Tokyo Electric Power Co., sits above an active fault line — an inconvenient truth the utility and the government had long denied. The shutdown could cause power shortages in Tokyo this summer, some fear; plant operators, who have been publicly reprimanded for their response to the incident, are requesting support from other utilities and asking customers to “redouble their energy-saving efforts.” The quake also hit a key auto-parts supplier in the region, leading Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi, and Subaru to temporarily suspend production. Wow, forced conservation and fewer cars? Mother Nature has a sick sense of humor.