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Governor of Shimane agrees to restart idled nuclear reactor

Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s Shimane nuclear power plant is located in Matsue, the capital of Shimane Prefecture.

June 2, 2022

Shimane Governor Tatsuya Maruyama has agreed to a restart of the No. 2 reactor at Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s Shimane nuclear power plant after more than a decade.

With the governor’s consent, the company’s procedures for obtaining local consent are completed, meaning it could come back online as early as next year, although it still requires final regulatory approval.

“If the reactor does not restart, the impact on the local economy will be huge,” Maruyama said during a plenary session of the prefectural assembly meeting on June 2, and added that the restart is now “inevitable.”

“It is important that the local consent was obtained,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a news conference on June 2.

“With the continuing rise in fuel prices and an energy supply bottleneck, it is necessary to utilize (nuclear power) to the maximum.”

After being suspended for about 10 years, this all but clears the way for the reactor, which is the only one in Japan located in a prefectural capital, to be restarted as early as fiscal 2023.

The utility had halted it in January 2012 for a regular inspection and has kept it offline since then.

The reactor passed the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety inspection in September 2021, and then in February this year, the city government of Matsue, which hosts the plant, agreed to restart it.

The No. 2 reactor is a boiling water reactor, the same type as the ones that melted down at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in 2011.

Restarting it would mark the first time since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake for a boiling water reactor to be brought back into operation.

But the company’s construction plan and safety regulations will first have to be accepted by the regulator, and construction of new safety countermeasures against the potential risk of earthquakes and tsunami must be completed.

Construction of those safeguards is expected to wrap up in February 2023.

About 460,000 people live in the evacuation area of the nuclear power plant. The figure is the third largest in Japan.

Under the evacuation plan, in the event of an emergency, many of the residents in the prefecture would be expected to evacuate to 49 municipalities in Hiroshima and Okayama prefectures.

The number of those who need support to evacuate, such as hospital patients, people with disabilities and pregnant women, is expected to be about 58,000.

They would be expected to evacuate by bus or social welfare vehicles arranged by the Shimane and Tottori prefectural governments.

But some have questioned the viability of the plan.

Concerns have been raised if adequate support exists for people who require special assistance to evacuate the area, whether Hiroshima and Okayama prefectures would be prepared to take in that many evacuees, and if evacuation routes could be secured in the event of a natural disaster.

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14635842?fbclid=IwAR15pPzg_Rq3CPMV8FSYJQHCgA169bxqhwdn8SrWckfQAwh3DrGdaY2s26c

June 7, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s Shimane Prefecture OKs restart of nuclear reactor

This photo taken from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter on Sept. 11, 2021, shows, clockwise from right, the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 reactors at Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s Shimane nuclear power plant in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture.

June 2, 2022

MATSUE, Japan (Kyodo) — Shimane Prefecture in western Japan approved Thursday a plan to restart a nuclear reactor of the same type as those that suffered meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant following the massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The green light for the No. 2 unit at Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s Shimane nuclear plant in the prefectural capital of Matsue was announced by Gov. Tatsuya Maruyama in a prefectural assembly session.

The company is seeking to restart the reactor in 2023 at the earliest. Inactive since 2012, it will likely be the country’s first boiling water reactor to be restarted since the Fukushima disaster.

Japan has been gradually restarting idled nuclear plants. But the reactors brought back online have been limited, so far, to another type — pressurized water reactors.

“I understand that (nuclear power) plays a certain role” in Japan’s energy policy, Maruyama said. “I thought that restarting is unavoidable at present, so I decided to accept it.”

Some residents visited the assembly to hear the governor’s remarks from the audience seats.

“I have opposed nuclear plants. Not to mention the danger, I think it is very unstable as an energy source. I want (the governor) to work by looking at citizens, not the state,” Masafumi Ashihara, a 72-year-old civic group member, said.

In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a press conference the central government will ensure safety is prioritized.

The Shimane plant is the only one in the country located in a prefectural capital. It is some 9 kilometers away from the prefectural government office.

In Japan, evacuation plans must be formulated for people living within 30 km of a nuclear plant.

About 460,000 people in six cities across Shimane and Tottori prefectures live within the evacuation area for the Shimane plant. The other heads of local governments in the area have already approved the plan to restart the reactor.

Still, concerns remain among residents over how effective the evacuation plan would be in a nuclear accident.

In Matsue, around 28,000 people who will need assistance evacuating, such as elderly residents, live within a 5 to 30 km radius of the plant, while approximately 1,700 such residents live in a 5 km radius, according to a survey by Kyodo News. Both figures are the highest among municipalities that host nuclear plants in Japan.

“We would need to thoroughly inform people, who may or may not be concerned about an accident, of the evacuation plan,” Maruyama said at a press conference.

Chugoku Electric cleared national safety standards in September 2021 for restarting the reactor. The utility is scheduled to complete its safety measures next February.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20220602/p2g/00m/0na/024000c

June 7, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment