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No. 2 reactor at Tohoku Electric Power Co’s Onagawa nuclear power plant for restart, despite problems

As nuclear worries linger, Tohoku plant heads for landmark restart,   BY ERIC JOHN, 18, Nov, 20  OSAKA – On Nov. 11, Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai gave the green light to restarting the No. 2 reactor at Tohoku Electric Power Co’s Onagawa nuclear power plant. While the reactor is not expected to begin generating power until construction to improve the plant’s safety is completed, the governor’s approval paves the way for the first reactor damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake to resume operation.

The restart, the first in northeastern Japan, comes amidst controversial restarts in the country’s west following the quake and at a time when the energy source’s future economic and political feasibility is being debated after the government announced a target of Japan being carbon neutral by 2050.

It is also the first reactor in northeastern Japan to be restarted, as well as the first Boiling Water Reactor, the same type of reactor as those that melted down at the Fukushima plant following the March 11, 2011 quake and tsunami.

What is the Onagawa nuclear plant and what happened to it after the earthquake and tsunami?

The Onagawa nuclear power plant sits on a peninsula in Miyagi Prefecture about 130 kilometers from the epicenter of the March 11, 2011 quake and tsunami. It has three reactors, one of which is being decommissioned.

………..The government’s current long-term energy strategy calls for nuclear power to provide between 20% and 22% of the nation’s electric power supply by fiscal 2030. The Agency for Natural Resources has said to meet that goal, the restart of 30 reactors is necessary.

There are a number of issues that could make that goal difficult. These include the cost of meeting the new NRA safety standards that went into place after 3/11 and the time needed to upgrade facilities. For the operator, those costs raise questions of whether it is worth investing and whether nuclear power-generated electricity will remain competitive with renewable energy in the coming years.

Other issues could also drive up the costs of restarting more reactors, beginning with subsidies to local governments. With no financial incentive, village heads, city mayors and prefectural governors could delay or refuse permission to restart. Even if permission is granted, operators may face lawsuits from residents opposed to restarts, a process that could delay or even halt the process if a judge rules in their favor, which would mean further costs for the operator.

The government’s current long-term energy strategy calls for nuclear power to provide between 20% and 22% of the nation’s electric power supply by fiscal 2030. The Agency for Natural Resources has said to meet that goal, the restart of 30 reactors is necessary.

There are a number of issues that could make that goal difficult. These include the cost of meeting the new NRA safety standards that went into place after 3/11 and the time needed to upgrade facilities. For the operator, those costs raise questions of whether it is worth investing and whether nuclear power-generated electricity will remain competitive with renewable energy in the coming years.

Other issues could also drive up the costs of restarting more reactors, beginning with subsidies to local governments. With no financial incentive, village heads, city mayors and prefectural governors could delay or refuse permission to restart. Even if permission is granted, operators may face lawsuits from residents opposed to restarts, a process that could delay or even halt the process if a judge rules in their favor, which would mean further costs for the operator.

November 19, 2020 - Posted by | Japan, politics

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