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Japan’s Sendai nuclear restart in final stage: local governor

Oct 31 (Reuters) – The governor of Kagoshima prefecture, home to Kyushu Electric Power Co’s Sendai plant, said restarting the nuclear facility was in its “final stage” in a positive sign for the industry, as the trade minister reiterated support for reviving idled reactors.

All 48 of Japan’s nuclear reactors remain offline more than three years after an earthquake and tsunami set off meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government is pushing to restart reactors that meet new regulatory guidelines.

Kyushu Electric’s two-reactor Sendai plant, located 1,000 km (600 miles) southwest of Tokyo in Satsumasendai, was the first to pass the independent regulator’s safety guidelines last month.

“We are in the final stage on the issue of the Sendai plant’s restart,” said Kagoshima governor Yuichiro Ito during a meeting with newly appointed trade minister Yoichi Miyazawa on Friday.

Japan has said it would defer to local authorities to approve any restart.

The city assembly of Satsumasendai voted in favour of restarting the plant this week and Kagoshima’s prefectural assembly is expected to vote to finalise the restart next Friday, local politicians say.

Only eight lawmakers out of 49 state assemblymen are opposed to restarting the plant.

Ito did not give a timeline for a possible restart of the plant, but any return to operations is seen as unlikely until next year.

Miyazawa, who was appointed to head the powerful trade ministry after the sudden resignation of his predecessor over a political funds scandal, said he planned to tour the nuclear plant and talk to local politicians in Kagoshima next Monday, Nov. 3.

Source: Reuters

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/31/japan-nuclear-restart-idUSL4N0SQ34T20141031

November 2, 2014 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

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

AJ201410280088MSendai nuclear power plant

October 28, 2014

A town in southwest Japan became the first to approve the restart of a nuclear power station on Oct. 28, a step forward in Japan’s fraught process of reviving an industry left idled by the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011.

Kagoshima Prefecture’s Satsuma-sendai, a town of 100,000 that hosts the two-reactor Kyushu Electric Power Co. plant, is 1,000 km (600 miles) southwest of Tokyo and has long relied on the Sendai nuclear power plant for government subsidies and jobs.

Nineteen of the city’s 26 assembly members voted in favor of restarting the plant while four members voted against and three abstained, a city assembly member told Reuters.

The restart of Japan’s first reactors to receive clearance to restart under new rules imposed following the Fukushima disaster is unlikely until next year as Kyushu Electric still needs to pass operational safety checks.

All 48 of the country’s nuclear reactors were gradually taken offline after the nuclear disaster, the world’s worst since Chernobyl in 1986.

An earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima No. 1 plant, 220 km (130 miles) northeast of Tokyo, sparking triple nuclear meltdowns, forcing more than 160,000 residents to flee from nearby towns and contaminating water, food and air.

Japan has been forced to import expensive fossil fuels to replace atomic power, which previously supplied around 30 percent of the country’s electricity.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government is pushing to restart nuclear reactors, but has said he will defer to local authorities to approve a policy that is still unpopular with large swaths of the public.

The restart divided communities nearest to the plant, pitting the host township that gets direct benefits from siting reactors against other communities that do not reap the benefits but say they will be equally exposed to radioactive releases in the event of a disaster.

In Ichikikushikino, a town less than five km (three miles) from the Sendai plant, more than half the 30,000 residents signed a petition opposing the restart earlier this year.

In the lead-up to the local vote, officials held town halls in neighboring towns to explain the restart, where some residents complained that the public meetings were restrictive and did not address concerns about evacuation plans.

A fire broke out at Kyushu Electric’s other nuclear plant on Oct. 28, according to Japanese media. The fire started in an auxiliary building of the idled nuclear station and was extinguished by plant workers, the agency said. There were no injuries and no release of radioactive materials, it said.

mountinMount Ioyama

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.

Satsumasendai’s Mayor Hideo Iwakiri welcomed the reopening, but said at the ensuing press conference that it would fall upon the government to ensure a repeat of the accident that damaged Fukushima, an outdated facility subject to loose oversight, is impossible.

September’s decision to initiate the return Japan’s nuclear capacity back online was taken by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who endorses nuclear production in the country, but has delegated the controversial call on reopening to local councils. Sendai was chosen after becoming the first plant to officially fulfill the government’s new stricter safety rules. It may also have been picked due to its geographical remoteness, and distance from the 2011 disaster area.

The primary reason for Abe’s nuclear drive been the expense in replacing the lost energy that constituted 30 percent of the country’s consumption, which the government says cost Japan an extra $35 billion last year. Japanese consumers have seen their energy bills climb by 20 percent since the disaster as a result.

But another concern remains the state of the country’s aging nuclear plants, which will cost $12 billion to upgrade. Meanwhile plans to build modern nuclear reactors – which were supposed to be responsible for half of the country’s nuclear power by 2030, according to previous government energy plans – have predictably been shelved in the wake of the disaster.

Sources:

Asahi Shimbun  http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201410280087

RT http://rt.com/news/200175-sendai-fukushima-nuclear-volcano/

October 29, 2014 Posted by | Japan | , , , | 1 Comment

City assembly approves Sendai plant restart

Whenever the nuclear lobby buys influence over the local elected officials the will of the local residents becomes completely ignored, resulting in a total corruption of democracy: ” The panel rejected 10 petitions against the restart, and adopted one calling for the plant to return online.”

20141020_32_v_s2Oct. 20, 2014
A special panel at a city assembly in southern Japan has approved a petition to allow a local nuclear power plant to resume operations.

The panel at the Satsuma Sendai city assembly in Kagoshima Prefecture discussed petitions both for and against the restart of the Sendai plant on Monday.

The plant is operated by Kyushu Electric Power Company. Last month it became the first to pass new regulations for nuclear plants introduced after the 2011 Fukushima accident.

Panel members in favor of the restart argued that the local economy has been sluggish since the plant went offline. But others opposing the restart said the screening by the government’s Nuclear Regulation Authority does not guarantee the plant’s safety.
The panel rejected 10 petitions against the restart, and adopted one calling for the plant to return online.

The city assembly is likely to approve the same petition because a majority of the assembly members are in favor of the restart.

The assembly may hold a session as early as October 28th to discuss the matter.

The plant operator says it hopes to win approval from Satsuma Sendai City and Kagoshima Prefecture.

The utility must also obtain approval from the Nuclear Regulation Authority. The plant will then undergo inspection of the newly installed equipment before going online.

The restart is likely to be early next year.
Source: NHK
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141020_32.html

October 21, 2014 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment