Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Japan to reopen 1st nuclear plant after Fukushima disaster - despite volcano risks

A local council has voted to re-open the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant on the outermost western coast of Japan, despite local opposition and meteorologists’ warnings, following tremors in a nearby volcano.

Nineteen out of 26 members of the city council of Satsumasendai approved the reopening that is scheduled to take place from early 2015. Like all of Japan’s 48 functional reactors, Sendai’s 890 MW generators were mothballed in the months following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Satsumasendai, a town of 100,000 people, relies heavily on state subsidies and jobs, which are dependent on the continuing operation of the plant.
But other towns, located within sight of the plant, do not reap the same benefits, yet say they are being exposed to the same risks. A survey conducted by the local Minami-Nippon Shimbun newspaper earlier this year said that overall, 60 percent of those in the region were in favor of Sendai staying shut. In Ichikikushikino, a 30,000-strong community just 5 kilometers away, more than half of the population signed a petition opposing the restart. Fewer than half of the major businesses in the region reported that they backed a reopening, despite potential economic benefits. 

Regional governor Yuichiro Ito has waved away the objections, insisting that only the city in which the plant is located is entitled to make the decision.
While most fears have centered around a lack of transparency and inadequate evacuation plans, Sendai is also located near the volcanically active Kirishima mountain range. Mount Ioyama, located just 65 kilometers away from the plant, has been experiencing tremors in recent weeks, prompting the Meteorological Agency to issue a warning. The government’s nuclear agency has dismissed volcanic risks over Sendai’s lifetime as “negligible,” however.................


  1. Kagoshima Gov. Yuichiro Ito has accepted the explanation offered by Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yoichi Miyazawa about the government’s plan to restart the Sendai nuclear plant...

    Miyazawa “clearly explained the need for the restart,” Ito told reporters after the pair met Monday in the prefectural government building.

    The governor will likely grant his approval for reactivating the plant if the Kagoshima Prefectural Assembly, as expected, votes in favor of the move this Friday.

    “We hope for your understanding,” Miyazawa told Ito during the meeting. The governor replied, “We will make a decision by comprehensively evaluating factors, after the prefectural assembly holds a vote on it shortly.”

    The assembly will be voting on whether to support the central government’s plan to restart reactors 1 and 2 at the Kyushu Electric Power Co. plant in the city of Satsumasendai.

    Earlier in the day, Miyazawa visited the Sendai plant, which is expected to be the first facility to be brought back online under safety regulations adopted after the March 2011 Fukushima No. 1 disaster.

    The Nuclear Regulation Authority certified the Sendai nuclear plant as meeting the new safety regulations in September and the municipal assembly and mayor of Satsumasendai approved the restart last month.

    The restart is expected to take place early next year.

  2. Kagoshima court rejects injunction against Sendai reactor restarts...

    The Kagoshima District Court on Wednesday dismissed an injunction to block the restart of two more nuclear reactors in the prefecture, brushing aside the concerns of local residents worried about the safety of the plant.

    The decision clears another hurdle for reactors at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant to begin starting up as early as June, as the government pushes to revive Japan’s idled nuclear industry four years after the disaster in Fukushima began.

    The ruling stands in sharp contrast to last week’s decision by the Fukui District Court to block the restart of reactors at the Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture over safety concerns.

    The Kagoshima District Court found no “irrationalities” in new safety standards adopted after the 2011 Fukushima meltdowns, ruling in favor of the plant operator.

    The Kyushu Electric Power Co. plans to fire up one of the reactors in July, a watershed moment for the nation as it would be the first reactor restart under the revised


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