Japan green-lights restart of nuclear plant

2014-10-28 14:07
Reporters inspect an observation well which is dug to take underground water samples near Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant Unit. (File, AP)

Reporters inspect an observation well which is dug to take underground water samples near Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant Unit. (File, AP)

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Tokyo - A Japanese city assembly approved the restart of two reactors near an active volcano on the southern island of Kyushu on Tuesday, paving the way for the first resumption of a nuclear power plant since regulations were updated following the atomic disaster in 2011.

The city assembly of Satsumasendai in Kagoshima prefecture adopted a motion in favour of reactivating the Sendai Nuclear Power Station, 1 000km south-west of Tokyo. The two-rector plant operated by Kyushu Electric Power is expected to be brought back online as early as the start of 2015.

Other municipalities within a 30km radius of the plant said that it is not acceptable to restart the reactors without their consent, citing safety concerns among locals. The plant is located 50km from the active volcano Sakurajima on the island.

Kagoshima Governor Yuichiro Ito has said obtaining approval from the prefecture and Satsumasendai city would be enough to allow the operator to reactivate the reactors.

Critics say that does not reflect the will of local residents.

A survey conducted by local paper Minami-Nippon Shimbun in May showed nearly 60% of those polled opposed the restart of the reactors while 37% supported the move.

Environmental group friends of the earth Japan said the group has repeatedly urged the central and local governments to hold a public forum to listen to local opinions but this has not happened.

The group also criticised the nuclear regulatory authority and the operator for underestimating possible volcanic eruptions that could affect the nuclear facility.

The regulators did not include any expert on volcanoes in the process of evaluating the plant, while local evacuation plans are "filled with problems", friends of the earth Japan said.

All of Japan's 48 reactors have been offline amid public fears of nuclear power following the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station in March 2011, which was triggered by an earthquake and tsunami.

Power companies have been depending on fossil fuel power generation ever since. Nuclear-generated electricity made up about 30% of the country's output before the disaster.

Read more on:    japan  |  nuclear energy

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