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Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) approves restart of a third plant – but more hurdles remain

NRA approves restart for third nuclear plant, Japan Times, 20 May 15 REUTERS, KYODO, BLOOMBERG, AFP-JIJI Japan’s nuclear regulator signed off on the basic safety of a reactor at a third nuclear plant on Wednesday, as the country inches toward rebooting its atomic industry more than four years after the crisis began at Tepco’s Fukushima No.1 facility….

But the reactor is not expected to go back online before winter, as Shikoku Electric has yet to obtain local approval and finish other necessary procedures….

The safety approval is still only one of three needed before the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) gives its final sign off. The consent of local authorities, which is seen as a formality, is also required, along with operational checks.

At a meeting on Wednesday, the NRA’s commissioners signed off on a provisional assessment that says the Ikata reactor meets new design standards introduced in the wake of Fukushima. The decision will be open to public comment for about a month before being formalized…..

Operators also have to overcome legal hurdles. Anti-nuclear activists have stepped up petitioning the judiciary to block restarts, with a majority of the public opposed to atomic power.

Residents near the Ikata plant filed a lawsuit in December 2011 to mothball the station, but a decision has yet to be made.

In a related move, the Fukui District Court has rejected Kansai Electric Power Co.’s appeal of a ruling that prevents the utility from restarting two reactors at its Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture, according to Tadashi Matsuda, a representative for the plaintiffs who won the case.

The court dismissal was decided Monday but not announced to the media. A court official declined to comment when contacted Tuesday. Kansai Electric representatives couldn’t be reached for comment.

The Fukui District Court issued an injunction in April preventing the utility from moving ahead with plans to restart the reactors.

The court said at the time that new safety regulations introduced following the Fukushima disaster of 2011 are still too lax to ensure the safety of the two reactors at the Takahama station….The rejected appeal throws yet another roadblock in the utility’s path to resuming operations at its nuclear plants……http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/05/20/national/japan-approves-third-nuclear-plant-restart/#.VV5O1rmqpHx

May 22, 2015 - Posted by | Japan, politics

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