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Governor likely to OK Sendai plant operation

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The governor of Kagoshima in western Japan is expected to approve the continued operation of a nuclear plant in the prefecture. Experts have found no irregularities at the facility following last year’s strong earthquakes.

Governor Satoshi Mitazono had called for the operation of the Sendai nuclear plant to be suspended after a series of earthquakes centered in nearby Kumamoto Prefecture.

He noted public concern and also asked for an inspection of the plant.

Kyushu Electric Power Company officials rejected his call to halt operations, but they carried out a special inspection. They say they found the quakes caused no abnormalities.

Last Thursday, an expert panel set up by the prefecture also reported that the quakes left no effects on the plant.

Mitazono said on Wednesday that there is currently no need for strong measures against the plant. He said he will remain vigilant if troubles arise.

There were mixed reactions to Mitazono’s decision.

A man in his 70s says the governor may have found that he cannot prevail over the central government in his anti-nuclear battle. He says there was no other choice but to continue operating the plant.

A woman in her 30s says she wanted the governor to stick to the anti-nuclear policy he pledged in the campaign.

She says she wants him to ensure that Kagoshima is a place where children will be able to live safely, now and in the future.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170222_33/

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February 24, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Kyushu Electric Restarts Sendai Nuclear Reactor

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FUKUOKA (Kyodo) — Kyushu Electric Power Co. restarted a nuclear reactor in the southwestern Japan prefecture of Kagoshima on Thursday after the prefectural governor, who is opposed to nuclear power, effectively permitted the move last week.
The No.1 reactor at the Sendai nuclear power complex is one of five reactors to have been reactivated under stricter safety regulations adopted in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Following resumption in August 2015, its operation had been suspended for a regular checkup since Oct. 6.
The utility pulled out control rods from the reactor at around 9:30 p.m. The reactor is expected to achieve criticality by Friday morning and to start power generation from Sunday. Commercial operation is set to resume from Jan. 6.
Kyushu Electric on Tuesday notified Kagoshima Gov. Satoshi Mitazono of the planned restart of the reactor and was not requested to suspend it this time, it said.
Mitazono, who was elected in July on an antinuclear platform, asked the utility in August and September to immediately suspend operation of the plant. The No. 1 reactor came to a halt in October for a regular checkup.
The Sendai complex’s No.2 reactor is scheduled to be suspended for regular checks from Dec. 16 to Feb. 27.
Mitazono had told a prefectural assembly earlier this month that he had no legal power to decide whether or not to restart the reactor, paving the way for the latest move.
On Thursday, however, Mitazono said that he will take “strong action, regardless of the reactor’s operation,” if an experts’ committee, which he plans to set up to examine safety at the plant, finds any safety problems.
Some 30 local residents and antinuclear group members gathered in front of the Sendai plant Thursday morning to protest the reactivation.

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December 9, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Kagoshima governor under fire after effectively accepting restart of nuclear reactor

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Kagoshima Governor Satoshi Mitazono on Nov. 28 explains to the prefectural assembly why he has requested a budget to form a committee of experts on nuclear power generation.

Governor under fire as Sendai nuclear reactor likely to restart

KAGOSHIMA—Anti-nuclear activists are castigating Governor Satoshi Mitazono, saying the politician has retreated from his campaign promises regarding the planned restart of a nuclear reactor in the prefecture.

Despite stressing that he would take a hard look at safety issues, Mitazono’s actions on Nov. 28 indicate that Kyushu Electric Power Co. will be allowed to restart the No. 1 reactor at its Sendai plant on Dec. 8 as was expected.

What he had done over the past months now appears to be a mere publicity stunt,” said Yukio Taira, chief of a confederation of labor unions in Kagoshima Prefecture.

Taira withdrew his candidacy in the governor’s race in July after he and Mitazono agreed on many policy measures toward a temporary halt of operations at the nuclear plant in Satsuma-Sendai.

Mitazono on Nov. 28 submitted to the prefectural assembly a budget proposal for establishing an expert panel on nuclear power generation–a centerpiece of his campaign pledges.

I will make a comprehensive judgment on how to respond when the panel releases its findings of the utility’s reports on ‘special checks,’” Mitazono told the assembly session, referring to the reactor restart plan.

However, given that a governor does not have the legal authority to order a halt, the No. 1 reactor will probably already be running by the time those findings are released.

The assembly is expected to vote on the budget request for the panel on Dec. 16. Kyushu Electric is scheduled to release the outcome of its special checks in early January.

The utility agreed to carry out the additional checks in response to the new governor’s concerns. These inspections, including checking bolts fastened on barrels containing nuclear waste, are nothing new and have been done in the past, according to Kyushu Electric.

Two reactors at the Sendai plant were the first in the nation to go online under new nuclear safety regulations set up after the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture.

The No. 1 reactor has been shut down for maintenance since October. The No. 2 reactor is scheduled to be taken offline in December for a routine inspection.

Mitazono, a former TV journalist, was elected on campaign promises to take a “strong response regarding a reactor restart if the envisaged committee deems the plant unsafe.”

Concerns over the safety of the nuclear complex arose when roads and other infrastructure were damaged in a series of powerful quakes that began rattling neighboring Kumamoto Prefecture in April.

After gaining support from anti-nuclear groups, Mitazono won the race against the incumbent, who was seen as friendlier toward nuclear power generation.

But after he took office, Mitazono appeared to back off from his campaign promises.

He did request an “immediate halt” of plant operations to Michiaki Uriu, president of Kyushu Electric, in late August and early September.

After the company refused the governor’s requests, Mitazono decided not to pursue the issue, saying a governor does not have the legal authority to demand a halt to operations.

He tried to assuage public concerns about the safety of the plant, citing the extra special checks the utility promised to conduct.

Taira said Mitazono has rejected repeated requests for a meeting with him and other anti-nuclear activists. They have asked Mitazono to quickly establish the expert panel for possible action to counter Kyushu Electric’s reactor restart plans. But the governor did not reply.

Mitazono also did not submit a budget request for the expert panel in the September session.

When asked by reporters, Mitazono merely kept saying he would establish the panel “as soon as possible.”

He is breaking the campaign promise if he allows the resumption of the plant without obtaining the conclusion of the panel,” Taira said.

According to one source, the governor told an informal gathering of members of the Liberal Democratic Party, the largest group in the assembly, that he shares the LDP’s direction in nuclear power policy.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201611290066.html

Kagoshima Governor Satoshi Mitazono on Nov. 28 explains to the prefectural assembly why he has requested a budget to form a committee of experts on nuclear power generation,

Kagoshima governor effectively accepts restart of nuclear reactor

KAGOSHIMA — Gov. Satoshi Mitazono on Nov. 28 effectively expressed his approval for the restart of the No. 1 reactor at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant in Satsumasendai, which is undergoing inspections.
The governor said that he will draw a conclusion on operation of the No. 1 reactor after the completion of special checks that are concurrently being performed by the plant’s operator, Kyushu Electric Power Co. Since the special checks include items that are to be completed after the reactor is scheduled to resume operation on Dec. 8, the governor’s comments indicate that he accepts reactivation of the reactor.

In a prefectural assembly meeting on Nov. 28, the governor presented a supplementary budget draft for December that earmarked 3 million yen to set up an inspection committee to probe the safety of the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant and the appropriateness of evacuation plans. In explaining this, he stated, “We will have the inspection committee verify and confirm a report on the result of the special check to be submitted by Kyushu Electric Power Co. and make a comprehensive decision based on its conclusions.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161129/p2a/00m/0na/008000c

December 1, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Kagoshima governor accepts restart of reactor at Sendai plant

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Kagoshima Governor Satoshi Mitazono responds to questions from reporters at a news conference at the prefectural government building on Oct. 28.

KAGOSHIMA–Despite campaigning on a pledge to immediately suspend operations at the Sendai nuclear plant, Governor Satoshi Mitazono has now accepted the scheduled restart of a reactor there amid mounting pressure from the plant operator.

I have no (legal) authority over whether (the reactor) can restart or not,” Mitazono said of the No. 1 reactor at the plant at a news conference on Oct. 28. “Kyushu Electric (Power Co.) will bring it back online anyway no matter how I respond.”

After being elected in July, Mitazono twice called on the utility in August and September to immediately shut down the plant in Satsuma-Sendai in the prefecture for additional safety checks.

Each time, the company turned him down.

Mitazono stopped making a similar request to the company, saying he would likely receive the same response.

After the No. 1 reactor went offline early this month for regular maintenance, the media focus has shifted to whether the new governor would accept the reactor’s scheduled restart around Dec. 8.

A governor does not have the legal authority to order a halt to the operation of a nuclear power plant.

Mitazono, a former TV journalist, won the gubernatorial race due, in part, to growing calls from the public for extra safety checks on the plant and the overhaul of the existing evacuation plan, which was compiled by his predecessor.

Concerns about the soundness of the plant mounted among voters since a series of powerful earthquakes struck Kumamoto Prefecture, Kagoshima Prefecture’s northern neighbor, in April.

Many of the roads and other infrastructure were damaged in the temblors in Kumamoto Prefecture, hindering residents from swiftly evacuating.

At that time, the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the Sendai plant were the only two units operating in the nation. They were the first two reactors signed off on meeting the new regulations set after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Mitazono’s news conference was the first since he gave one in late July right after he took office.

He had signaled previously that he would decide on the restart of the No. 1 reactor based on the discussion of an expert panel he intended to set up at the prefectural government to examine the safety of the Sendai plant.

But he stopped short of laying out a specific time frame for forming the panel.

I am hoping to do it as soon as I can,” he said at the news conference.

The governor has yet to submit a budget request needed to assemble the panel to the prefectural assembly.

The prefectural assembly is expected to convene in late November in the next session, meaning that the panel will not be established ahead of the No. 1 reactor’s restart.

Mitazono also said he expects to inspect the Sendai plant alongside other experts on nuclear energy next month.

The inspection is aimed at examining details of “special checks” Kyushu Electric promised to conduct, in addition to the regular maintenance of the No. 1 reactor.

I am hoping to put together my thoughts about the plant’s safety through discussions with experts,” Mitazono said. “If necessary, I want to take some measures.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201610290035.html

October 29, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Kagoshima governor once again requests nuclear reactor halt

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Governor again requests reactor suspension

Satoshi Mitazono, governor of the southwestern Japan prefecture of Kagoshima, meets with reporters on Sept. 7, 2016, in the city of Fukuoka after issuing a second request to Kyushu Electric Power Co. to suspend operations of two reactors at its Sendai nuclear plant. The utility rejected the initial request issued on Aug. 26.

Kagoshima Gov. Satoshi Mitazono once again requested Wednesday that Kyushu Electric Power Co. immediately suspend the operation of two reactors at its nuclear power plant in the southwestern prefecture after the utility rejected his earlier call.

Following a meeting with Mitazono in Fukuoka, Kyushu Electric President Michiaki Uriu indicated to the press that the operator is likely to reject the request, saying he wants the company to be “spared of” the suspension as it will conduct “special safety checkups” thoroughly on the Sendai nuclear plant reactors — two of only three nuclear reactors currently operating in Japan.

The latest request came after the new governor demanded on Aug. 26 that the utility halt the plant’s Nos. 1 and 2 reactors to verify their safety, citing local worries about the plant’s safety after major earthquakes rocked neighboring Kumamoto Prefecture and its vicinity in April.

http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/09/432470.html

September 9, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Kyushu Electric nixes governor’s request to halt Sendai nuclear plant

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Kyushu Electric President Michiaki Uriu, left, hands over the company’s response to Kagoshima Governor Satoshi Mitazono on Sept. 5.

Kyushu Electric nixes governor’s request to halt nuclear plant

KAGOSHIMA–Kyushu Electric Power Co. on Sept. 5 knocked back a request by Kagoshima Governor Satoshi Mitazono to immediately shut down its Sendai nuclear power plant in light of recent earthquakes in the region.

Mitazono, who was elected in July on a campaign pledge to suspend the reactor operations for a safety review, submitted his request to Kyushu Electric on Aug. 26, citing concerns about active faults around the facility.

Michiaki Uriu, president of Kyushu Electric, delivered the company’s response to Mitazono in person at the Kagoshima prefectural government office.

He said the two reactors at the Sendai nuclear plant would continue to generate electricity until mandatory safety inspections are carried out later this year.

The utility did, however, promise to give stronger backing to the prefectural government’s review of evacuation plans and provide more information about the plant to local residents in the event of a natural disaster or nuclear accident.

Uriu told Mitazono, “We understand your concerns in all seriousness and plan to take steps to reduce the anxiety felt by Kagoshima residents.”

Mitazono expressed dismay at Kyushu Electric’s decision and indicated he may submit another request to shut down the plant “if the need arises.”

“I strongly requested that in the wake of the earthquakes in Kumamoto the nuclear plant should be stopped for another inspection,” Mitazono said. “I wish you could abandon the mind-set that nuclear plants are infallibly safe.”

In his August request, Mitazono called for an immediate suspension of the nuclear plant operations and a further safety examination on grounds that residents of Kagoshima had become more concerned after a series of earthquakes from April hit Kumamoto Prefecture bordering Kagoshima to the north.

Kyushu Electric argued that the prefectural governor does not have the legal authority to suspend nuclear plant operations, which the utility said were vital for stable corporate performance.

The company also feared that if it went along with the request it could jeopardize operations at other nuclear plants around Japan.

The Sendai plant’s No. 1 reactor will undergo a periodic safety inspection from Oct. 6, and the No. 2 reactor from Dec. 16.

Kyushu Electric said the inspections will incorporate seven factors asked for by Mitazono, including the reactor pressure vessel.

The utility also said it will undertake special additional inspections covering aspects not included in the governor’s request, such as whether bolts on equipment had loosened.

The company pledged to provide additional vehicles to the 16 that elderly residents can use to evacuate in the event of an accident at the plant. The offer represents the company’s commitment to providing support for the planned revision of evacuation plans.

But it rejected Mitazono’s request for a study of active faults in the vicinity of the Sendai plant on the grounds that a considerable number of such studies had already been conducted.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201609050044.html

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The No. 1 and No. 2 reactors are seen at the Sendai nuclear power plant in Satsumasendai, Kagoshima Prefecture, in this photo taken from a Mainichi helicopter.

Kyushu Electric rejects governor’s call to suspend nuclear reactors

KAGOSHIMA, Japan (Kyodo) — Kyushu Electric Power Co. on Monday rejected a request by the governor of Kagoshima Prefecture in southwestern Japan to immediately suspend operations of two reactors at its Sendai nuclear plant there.

In a meeting at the prefectural government office, the utility’s president, Michiaki Uriu, handed Gov. Satoshi Mitazono a written rejection, seeking to gain understanding about its claim that the safety of the facility will be proved through a regular checkup scheduled to be held as early as October.

Mitazono will scrutinize the paper and consider his government’s response. Although a governor has no legal power to suspend the operation of reactors, he could still repeat his request by issuing a statement if he finds the utility’s response unsatisfactory.

In the checkup, Kyushu Electric plans to examine its reactor vessels and a facility for keeping spent nuclear fuel as sought by the prefecture.

The company does not plan to hold any new probe into possible active faults near the plant, saying it has already thoroughly checked them and is ready to explain the survey results to the governor.

In late August, Mitazono demanded that Kyushu Electric immediately suspend the plant’s Nos. 1 and 2 reactors to verify their safety, the first such move by the head of a prefecture since the 2011 nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant.

Mitazono, who was elected on an antinuclear platform in July, cited growing local worries about the plant’s safety after powerful earthquakes devastated nearby Kumamoto Prefecture and its vicinity in April.

In September 2014, the Sendai plant passed tougher safety standards for nuclear plants in Japan introduced in the wake of the Fukushima crisis, leading to the restart of Nos. 1 and 2 reactors in August and October last year, respectively.

The No. 1 reactor will suspend operations from Oct. 6 and the No. 2 reactor from Dec. 16 for the regular checks that will take about two months to complete.

Currently, the two Sendai reactors and another reactor at Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata plant in western Japan are operating in Japan after passing the post-Fukushima safety checks.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160905/p2g/00m/0dm/043000c

 

September 5, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Anti-nuclear governor in Japan asks Kyushu Electric to suspend nuke plant

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An aerial view shows the No.1 (L) and No.2 reactor buildings at Kyushu Electric Power’s Sendai nuclear power station in Satsumasendai, Kagoshima prefecture, Japan, August 11, 2015

A local Japanese governor on Friday asked Kyushu Electric Power to temporarily suspend the Sendai nuclear plant, one of two operating in the nation, further clouding efforts by the government and utilities to restart more idled reactors.

Anti-nuclear advocate Satoshi Mitazono, who was elected governor of Kagoshima prefecture last month, called on Kyushu Electric to re-examine safety and safety measures at its facility in southwestern Japan, raising concerns about a series of strong quakes that struck neighboring Kumamoto in April.

The request was expected as Mitazono, a former journalist, had said he wanted the temporary shutdown amid heightened concerns from local residents about safety and evacuation plans.

Mitazono’s pledges to suspend operations at the Sendai plant are credited with helping him beat in a July election incumbent Yuichiro Ito, who had agreed to the resumption of Sendai’s reactors.

“As an operator of nuclear power plants, the company has a duty to sincerely listen and response to the concerns of local residents. The company should temporarily suspend the nuclear plant and re-examine safety,” Mitazono said in a statement that was handed to Kyushu Electric President Michiaki Uriu at the prefectural government offices.

Mitazono has no legal power to shut down operating reactors.

“We will give the matter serious consideration,” Kyushu Electric said in a subsequent statement.

Only three reactors are online in Japan: two at Kyushu Electric’s Sendai plant and one at Shikoku Electric Power’s Ikata station. Utilities have struggled to get nuclear units running again in the face of a skeptical public after shutting them all down following the Fukushima disaster of 2011.

Sendai’s reactors are already schedule to be stopped for maintenance this year, one in October and one in December. Reactors in Japan are required to be shut for servicing after 13 months of commercial operation.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-nuclear-kyushu-elec-pwr-idUSKCN1110WH

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

New Kagoshima governor to seek suspension of Sendai reactors

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KAGOSHIMA – Newly elected Kagoshima Gov. Satoshi Mitazono said Thursday he will seek a temporary halt on active nuclear reactors in the prefecture, currently the only ones working nationwide.

“There are concerns over nuclear power plants following the Kumamoto earthquakes,” Mitazono said of the April disaster.

He was speaking in his first news conference since becoming governor. He was elected on an anti-nuclear ticket.

Mitazono added that Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai plant should be “halted once, to conduct checks and reviews again.”

The No. 1 reactor at the Sendai plant is scheduled to go offline for routine checks on Oct. 6, but Mitazono may submit his request for a suspension as early as August.

The No. 1 and No. 2 units at the plant resumed operation last year in August and October, respectively, becoming the first two reactors to be brought back online under stricter safety rules imposed after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

No other reactors are currently online in Japan amid lingering public fears over safety. Some are subject to court injunctions, but others are gearing up for a restart.

The governor is not authorized to stop the operation of reactors, but a safety accord reached between the prefectural government and the plant operator allows local government officials to enter the plant to confirm whether safety steps are being taken.

Kyushu Electric Power is likely to insist that Sendai is safe.

In the July 10 gubernatorial election, 58-year-old Mitazono, a former TV Asahi Corp. commentator, defeated previous Gov. Yuichiro Ito, 68, who was seeking his fourth four-year term with the support of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, Komeito.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/07/28/national/new-kagoshima-governor-seek-suspension-sendai-reactors/

July 29, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Kagoshima’s new governor vows to halt Sendai nuclear plant for safety checks

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Incoming Kagoshima Gov. Satoshi Mitazono says he plans to ask Kyushu Electric Power Co. to suspend operation of the Sendai nuclear power plant for safety checks.

In an interview on Wednesday, Mitazono said he will make the request to the utility at a yet to be decided date to examine the effects of powerful earthquakes that hit nearby Kumamoto and Oita prefectures in April.

The former TV commentator was elected Sunday as governor of the only prefecture in Japan with an operating nuclear power plant.

During campaigning, Mitazono pledged to halt its operation.

“I will require Kyushu Electric to temporarily suspend the operation” for a survey of nearby faults and a review of evacuation plans to ensure safety, he said.

“There are many citizens in this prefecture concerned about the nuclear power plant operating after the quakes in Kumamoto,” he said.

Prefectural governors are not authorized to stop the operation of a nuclear reactor, but utilities require local consent to restart them.

Backed by an anti-nuclear camp, Mitazono defeated incumbent Yuichiro Ito, who allowed two reactors at the Sendai complex to be reactivated last year.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/07/14/national/kagoshimas-new-governor-wants-sendai-nuke-plant-halted-faults-evacuation-routes-checked/#.V4he2LgrLIU

July 17, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

New governor’s Sendai plant shutdown pledge alarms utility

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Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear power plant in Satsuma-Sendai in Kagoshima Prefecture

Concern is growing among Kyushu Electric Power Co. and the central government over the new Kagoshima governor’s pledge to request a reassessment of the Sendai nuclear plant’s safety in light of the recent Kumamoto quakes.

Satoshi Mitazono, a former political reporter with TV Asahi Corp., was elected on his campaign pledge to build a “society without nuclear energy” in the July 10 gubernatorial race, defeating incumbent Yuichiro Ito.

Mitazono, 58, wants to suspend operations at the plant for a review of its emergency evacuation plan and to re-examine its safety features.

A top Kyushu Electric executive expressed bewilderment over Mitazono’s proposal.

A governor has no legal authority to order a halt,” the official said. “On what legal basis can the plant be shut down?”

But Mitazono’s calls reflect local residents’ mounting concerns over the Sendai plant in Satsuma-Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture, after a series of strong tremors rocked neighboring Kumamoto Prefecture starting in mid-April.

The company allows prefectural officials to inspect the nuclear plant site, and request for it to take corrective measures based on their findings under an agreement with the prefectural and Satsuma-Sendai city governments over safety issues.

Kyushu Electric, based in Fukuoka, would likely be forced to respond in one way or another when the governor asks for the suspension of the plant, regardless of legal authority.

With two reactors in operation, Sendai is the only nuclear power station back online in the nation after it cleared the new safely regulations implemented after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

After Mitazono emerged as the winner on July 10, Kyushu Electric’s closing stock price dropped more than 7 percent, compared to July 8, reflecting the company’s potentially gloomy prospects.

The two reactors at the Sendai plant are scheduled to be shut down in October or later for a regular check.

An official with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which oversees the nuclear industry, said it would take a prolonged period before the plant could be restarted if a review of the evacuation plan or other demands were made.

A senior Kyushu Electric official concurred that it would not be easy to go back online on a regular time schedule if such demands were made.

It would be difficult to reactivate the reactors amid the opposition of the local government hosting the plant,” the official said.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201607120060.html

July 12, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | 2 Comments

Japan nuclear restart in doubt after skeptic wins governor’s race

TOKYO — The election of a governor who favors shutting down the Sendai nuclear power plant in southwestern Japan raises uncertainty for the nation’s only running reactors.

“A nuclear plant whose safety hasn’t been confirmed shouldn’t be operating,” Satoshi Mitazono, a former TV journalist who ran in Kagoshima Prefecture, told reporters Sunday.

Mitazono said he wanted another study to determine whether the facility lies near active faults and said there are “problems” with the current plans for evacuating residents in an emergency.

His victory in Sunday’s gubernatorial race is not expected to lead to the plant immediately shutting down, since governors lack the legal authority to make this happen.

But the plant’s two reactors are due for regularly scheduled inspections in October and December. Local utility Kyushu Electric Power would have little chance of restarting them after the safety checks if the governor objects. Mitazono’s problems with the evacuation plans may introduce time-consuming revisions.

“If the new governor insists on postponing the restarts, that would rule out operating the Sendai reactors,” said a senior official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which is responsible for Japanese energy policy.

The No. 3 reactor at Shikoku Electric Power‘s Ikata nuclear plant may resume operations as early as this month. Even so, nationwide nuclear energy output would remain far short of the government’s fiscal 2030 target of 20-22% of power generation.

http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Policy-Politics/Japan-nuclear-restart-in-doubt-after-skeptic-wins-governor-s-race

July 11, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Nuclear-free society advocate set to win Kagoshima governor race

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KAGOSHIMA – Anti-nuclear advocate Satoshi Mitazono was heading for victory in the Kagoshima gubernatorial race Sunday, beating incumbent Yuichiro Ito, who agreed to the resumption of reactors at a power plant in the prefecture, a projection showed.

The 58-year-old Mitazono is a former TV Asahi Corp. commentator. He ran as an independent backed by the main opposition Democratic Party and the Social Democratic Party as well as some conservatives who typically support the ruling Liberal Democratic Party but were opposed to the incumbent.

Ito, 68, with the support of the LDP and its junior coalition partner Komeito, was seeking his fourth four-year term.

One of the contentious issues in the race was the fate of Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear power plant in the prefecture.

The Sendai plant’s No. 1 and No. 2 units are the only reactors operating in the country after the government imposed tougher safety rules following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Mitazono demanded that plant operations be temporarily suspended for safety checks in the wake of a series of strong earthquakes that hit central Kyushu in April, while Ito argued that the plant’s safety had been secured.

We will not activate any reactors the safety of which is not guaranteed,” he told reporters on Sunday.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/07/10/national/politics-diplomacy/nuclear-free-society-advocate-set-win-kagoshima-governor-race/#.V4JQJJl95E5

July 10, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment