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New Japanese nuclear power plant project given go ahead by local authorities

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A man holds a flag with a radioactive hazard symbol during No Nukes Day, a protest calling for a nuclear-free future, in Yoyogi park in Tokyo, Japan.

Yamaguchi prefecture in Japan has renewed a landfill license for construction of a new nuclear power plant. The license was halted after the Fukushima disaster. The renewal comes amid heated debate on whether Japan needs new reactors at all.

The license to reclaim land for a new nuclear plant was renewed for the Chugoku Electric Power Co. by the prefectural government on Wednesday, Kyodo news agency reports.

The plant once planned to be constructed in the coastal town of Kaminoseki is positioned “within the country’s energy policy,” the local government said.

Originally, the two-reactor Kaminoseki nuclear complex on an island in the Seto Inland Sea was granted the landfill license in October 2008. The Fukushima crisis brought the construction to a halt at an early landfill work stage, while the license expired in 2012 and was not prolonged, as the former Yamaguchi Governor Shigetaro Yamamoto said the local authorities wanted to “examine the issue appropriately,” but did not make a decision, citing “special circumstances after the nuclear accident.”

Now the landfill license for Kaminoseki nuclear complex has been extended until July 6, 2019, specifically stipulating, though, that the landfill work cannot start until the company presents exact schedule of when the plant facilities are going to be built.

As of now, Chugoku Electric is not ready to elaborate on exact dates when construction will begin, company Vice-President Akira Sakotani said the same day the license was extended.

We will seriously take to heart the request [by the prefectural government] and carefully consider [our response],” he said.

When the construction of the Kaminoseki nuclear complex began, it was slowed down by protests of the local anti-nuclear energy activists. The activists are expected to go on with their protests now, that the license has been extended.

Anti-nuclear sentiment in Japan have been strong ever since the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, but Japan’s huge nuclear energy industry has been stagnating amidst uncertainty for five years now.

Official Tokyo is already pushing for restoring operations of those existing reactors that have successfully met the new post-Fukushima safety requirements.

Just on Wednesday, the No. 3 reactor of Mihama plant in Fukui Prefecture, operated by Kansai Electric Power Co. successfully passed the state safety assessment, becoming yet another nuclear power unit confirmed for safe operations under new regulations.

https://www.rt.com/news/354580-japan-new-nuclear-plant/

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

License renewed for new nuclear plant project in western Japan

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Planned construction site for Kaminoseki nuclear plant

File photo taken in October 2012 shows the planned construction site for a Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s nuclear plant in the western Japan town of Kaminoseki. Local opposition and the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster have prevented development of the construction project.

YAMAGUCHI, Japan (Kyodo) — The Yamaguchi prefectural government on Wednesday renewed a license for Chugoku Electric Power Co. to reclaim land for a new nuclear power plant in the western Japan prefecture, surprising and angering local residents opposed to the project.

Whether to extend the expired license for landfill work in the coastal town of Kaminoseki to build the Kaminoseki Nuclear Power Station had been a pending issue after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis led to the suspension of the work. But the local government decided to grant permission, saying that the plant is positioned “within the country’s energy policy.”

The utility is unlikely to quickly restart the work due to local opposition, however. The local government’s license renewal is also conditional: It said landfill work should not start until prospects of building plant facilities become clear.

But the latest development could open up substantial discussions on whether new reactors should be built in Japan, which the central government has largely avoided so far in consideration of antinuclear sentiment that has prevailed after the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster.

Meanwhile, the government has already been pushing for the resumption of existing reactors that have met post-Fukushima safety requirements. On Wednesday, the No. 3 reactor at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Mihama plant in Fukui Prefecture became the latest unit to have effectively cleared the state safety assessment.

Chugoku Electric was initially granted the landfill license in October 2008 for the two-reactor Kaminoseki nuclear complex on an island in the Seto Inland Sea.

The company began landfill work a year later, but progress was slow amid local protests and was suspended after the Fukushima crisis was triggered by a huge earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan in March 2011.

Just before the license was set to expire in October 2012, the utility applied for a three-year extension to the prefectural government. “We have not changed our idea that we need the Kaminoseki plant. We want to keep the license,” a utility official said at the time.

Then Yamaguchi Gov. Shigetaro Yamamoto said the local government will “examine the issue appropriately” but did not make a decision, citing “special circumstances after the nuclear accident.”

But on Wednesday, the prefectural government reversed course and permitted the extension of the license, though saying that landfill work should not begin until the utility has clear prospects of building plant facilities.

Chugoku Electric Vice President Akira Sakotani said the same day that there is currently no specific date set for building the facilities.

“We will seriously take to heart the request (by the prefectural government) and carefully consider (our response),” he said.

The license will be effective until July 6, 2019.

The decision of the prefectural government drew mixed responses from local residents.

“I can’t believe the permission was given,” said Toshiyasu Shimizu, 61, who heads a group of residents on an island several kilometers from the construction site.

But Naonori Koizumi, a 58-year-old member of a group supporting the construction project, said, “I don’t think work will immediately resume, but the town is depopulating and graying. I hope nuclear power will make this town richer.”

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160803/p2g/00m/0dm/058000c

August 3, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment