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Central Japan water leak affects plants near Toyota hub

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TOKYO (Reuters) -A major water leak in central Japan on Wednesday disrupted supply to more than 130 businesses near the production centre of Toyota Motor Corp.

The accident in Japan's manufacturing heartland threatened interruptions at major auto firms and power companies.

A Toyota spokesperson said the company was using well water at its factories to cope with the shutdown. JERA, Japan's biggest power generator, said water supply had been halted at two plants.

The major leakage occurred at the Meiji Irrigation Works earlier in the day, affecting supply to the Anjo Water Treatment Plant in Aichi Prefecture, Central Japan, according to a statement from officials. The outage had affected supply to 131 businesses, mainly in the auto sector, the statement said.

Authorities are aiming to resume water supplies by the end of Wednesday through the use of temporary pumps and other emergency measures, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.

The incident has had no impact on households, he added.

The cause of the leak was still being investigated, and workers were trying to stem the flow by pouring crushed stones into the affected area, an official of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said at an online briefing.

Toyota would be able to operate as usual for Wednesday and would monitor the situation after that, the spokesperson said.

Denso Corp, a major Toyota supplier, said five of its factories in the area had tapped into water storage to continue operations. It would deploy water supply trucks and use well water if needed, a company spokesperson said.

Some major assembly lines at Toyota's factories in the area had already planned to suspend production, prior to the water supply issue, due to a parts shortage stemming from the COVID-19 lockdown in Shanghai.

Toyota Industries Corp said five of its plants were saving water and using storage water to circumvent the industrial water supply problem.

Osaka Gas Co suspended operations at two thermal electrical power plants in Nagoya due to the disrupted water supply, a spokesperson said.

(Reporting by Satoshi Sugiyama, Kiyoshi Takenaka, Rocky Swift and Yuka Obayashi; editing by Bradley Perrett and Jason Neely)