Japan regulators clear way to restart nuclear reactor
TOKYOJul 15, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
Jul 15, 2015 12:00 am
A Japanese power company received permission on Wednesday to restart a nuclear reactor, which will bring the number of reactors given the go-ahead to resume operations under updated regulations following the country's 2011 Fukushima accident to five. The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) finalized the decision to allow Shikoku Electric Power Co. to commence operations of Reactor 3 at its Ikata plant in the Ehime prefecture, 750 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. The move comes after the reactor cleared a major hurdle toward resumption in May.
It must still obtain local approvals and complete the remaining procedures for regulatory review before it is allowed to restart the reactor.
Shikoku Electric said in a statement it will "make utmost efforts" to secure safety at the plant. The Ikata plant is located at the base of a narrow peninsula on the island called Sadamisaki. Critics warned that residents who live nearby may be left without an overland escape route in the event of a serious accident.
A local civic group criticized the NRA's approval, saying the regulators are "underestimating the scale of [possible] earthquakes" that could hit the plant, Tsukasa Wada, a member of the group, said during a press conference in Matsuyama. Kyushu Electric Power Co. is set to restart a reactor at the Sendai plant in mid-August, the first resumption of a nuclear reactor under the updated regulations.
Two reactors at the Takahama plant in the Fukui prefecture also cleared the regulators' screening in February. However, an April court injunction prohibited Kansai Electric Power Co. from resuming operations of the two units due to safety problems.
All of Japan's 48 reactors remain offline following the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011. It suffered meltdowns in three of its six reactors after it was hit by a magnitude 9 earthquake and the ensuing tsunami.