Japan OK to re-start first 2 reactors

2012-04-09 19:10

Tokyo - Japan's economy minister said on Monday two nuclear reactors tentatively met government safety standards even though completing improvements will take several years, paving the way for final approval for their startup soon.

All but one of Japan's 54 reactors are offline for regular safety checks, and the last will be shut down in May. Residents fear another disaster like the Fukushima crisis, but Japan faces a severe power shortage if reactors are not restarted.

The government issued new safety guidelines last Friday to address residents' worries. In response, Kansai Electric Power submitted its safety plans earlier on Monday for two reactors at the Ohi plant in Fukui prefecture, saying the full upgrades will take up to three years.

Hours later, Economy and Industry Minister Yukio Edano said the No 3 and 4 reactors at the Ohi plant "more or less met our safety standards".

Edano said top officials will go over the checklist one more time before making a final evaluation, then discuss a possible start-up in light of electricity demands during the hot summer months. Kansai Electric said on Monday that its service area, including Osaka and Kyoto, will face up to 20% of power shortage during the summer if the reactors stayed offline.

Edano said the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said that the Ohi reactors' past safety upgrades since the Fukushima crisis alone could provide enough safety margins and protections to keep reactor cores from melting even in the event of a similar earthquake or tsunami.

The safety upgrade plans submitted by the utility also "demonstrated its voluntary effort to find necessary steps and take concrete action," Edano said.

Kansai Electric president Makoto Yagi, who handed the roadmap to Edano earlier on Monday, said he will aim to achieve "the world's top-class safety" at the Ohi plant. "I hope a start-up is approved as soon as possible."

However, more than one-third of the necessary upgrades on the list are still incomplete, utility officials said.

Crisis centre not ready

The start-up guidelines are based on recommendations adopted last month by NISA. Some of the most crucial measures to secure cooling functions and prevent meltdowns as in Fukushima were installed, but the rest were not.

Filtered vents that could substantially reduce radiation leaks in case of an accident threatening an explosion, a radiation-free crisis management building and fences to block debris washed up by a tsunami won't be ready until 2015. This means the plant, as well as plant workers and residents, won't be fully protected from radiation leaks if a Fukushima-class accident occurs while the measures are being taken.

Some experts said a resumption without these key protections would leave the plant vulnerable.

Tadahiro Katsuta, a Meiji University associate professor who was on a government panel that produced nuclear safety recommendations, said the upgrades completed are "mostly quick-fix measures," and that more important ones, such as a crisis management centre, have been put off.

"I doubt if this would suffice to carry out the lessons from Fukushima in the case of another accident," Katsuta told public broadcaster NHK.

Currently, the crisis management headquarters at the Ohi plant is in the basement, which would be flooded in case of a major tsunami, Kansai Electric officials said. The plant is relocating the function to a room next to the control room for the two reactors.

The Fukushima Dai-ichi completed a similar building at a slightly elevated area on the complex just a year before the disasters - though it was meant for quakes. It was the key crisis management centre after surviving the March 11 2011, tsunami that washed into the plant, destroying the plant's power and cooling systems, causing three reactor cores to melt. 

Step forward

Plant officials have said the building was key to their survival.

None of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors are equipped with filtered vents, although their operators are moving to install them in coming years.

Ohi town mayor Shinobu Tokioka called the roadmap a "step forward," but urged the central government and nuclear regulators to carefully review the reactors' safety.

Starting up the reactors would usually take one or two days after approval is granted, but it is still unclear how long it would take in this case. Edano is expected to visit the region to request a start-up and gauge public reaction.

Local consent is not a legal requirement for restarting the reactors, though government ministers are unlikely to force if the mood is strongly against it.

Fukui, where 13 reactors are clustered in four complexes along the coast, is often called Japan's "Nuclear Alley".

- SAPA
Read more on:    japan  |  nuclear
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Africa: Land of Billionaires!

Find out who are the richest of the richest in Africa!

 
 

Men24.com

Best bro movies 2014
Every man should be able to do these three things
Goalkeeper saves five penalties with his FACE!
Hottie of the day: Jesselyn

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Hot festive offers at kalahari.com!

Hurry! Stocks are limited. Don’t miss out. Shop Now!

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may feel divided. Conflict between mind and emotions can create tension or indecision. This could lead to stressful feelings...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.