Japan nuclear firms urge reactors restart
Iran Press TV
Mon Jul 8, 2013 8:55AM GMT
Japanese nuclear operators have asked regulators for permission to restart reactors after new rules came into effect following disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
Four Japanese power companies on Monday submitted applications to the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) for safety inspections on a total of 10 nuclear reactors idled since a tsunami swept through the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011.
Three reactors are at one site on Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido, while the remaining seven are in four plants in the west of the country.
The nuclear reactors are unlikely to be brought back online soon since the NRA said it may take around six months for each safety-screening process to finish.
The NRA has drawn up tough new standards that require utilities to prepare measures against severe accidents or terrorist attacks before they will be given permission to restart idled reactors.
In case the regulator gives the go-ahead, the firms must then get the nod from national and regional politicians.
“It is important that assessment will be done in a strict manner by the Nuclear Regulation Authority based on the new standards,” said Katsunobu Kato, the deputy chief of Japan’s cabinet secretary.
“It is a precondition that host communities agree on the re-firing, so we hope utilities give detailed explanations to local residents,” Kato added.
On March 11, 2011, a nine-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that inflicted heavy damage on the six-reactor Fukushima plant. Cooling systems of the plant’s reactors were knocked out, leading to meltdowns and the release of radioactivity.
Before the disaster, the nuclear reactors provided 30 percent of the country’s electricity and the government had planned to increase the share to more than 50 percent by 2030.
Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors were shut down after the accident. Most of the reactors have been off-lined for regularly scheduled maintenance, with no specific restart plans.
Most people do not want the reactors to be restarted, saying reactivating the reactors before the completion of the probe into the Fukushima triple-meltdown disaster would pose too much of a risk.
Having been badly hit by soaring gas and oil costs, Japanese utility companies are eager to get their reactors back online.
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