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Japan clears two more idled nuclear reactors to be restarted

2015-02-13 10:23 Xinhua Web Editor: Gu Liping

Japan's nuclear regulator on Thursday gave safety clearance to two more nuclear reactors that were idled in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, which will be a boon for the government who has been trying to bring the nation's reactors back online to alleviate the huge burden of imported fossil fuels.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) said the new safety measures at the No.3 and No.4 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co. 's Takahama complex, in Fukui Prefecture, meet the government's new safety requirements in the post-Fukushima era.

The Takahama plant is the second to be cleared for restart, following the No.1 and No.2 reactors clearing checks to be brought back online at Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s Sendai plant, in the southwestern prefecture of Kagoshima, although the utility said it still needs more time to submit some safety documents to the regulator.

It's somewhat unlikely, however, that the Takahama plant will be operational ahead of summer as residents in the surrounding area are calling for more stringent checks, with many concerned the NRA has underestimated the potential size of tremors from an earthquake, while others are concerned that security measures haven't been put in place to deal with a terrorist attack.

Local residents near the Sendai plant were equally concerned, with a strong contingent arguing against the restart because the plant is located in a seismically active region among numerous active volcanic sites, and concern is rife that if a nearby volcano erupts the nuclear plant's safety measures may be woefully insufficient.

As with the Sendai plant, the operator of the Takahama complex said Thursday it needs more time to carry out a number of safety procedures and checks, including submitting a construction plan to the NRA and completing site checks, as well as trying to gain more public approval from local residents.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been a staunch supporter of bringing the nation's nuclear power stations back online, however, as a comparatively weak yen, has continued to push up the price of Japan's fuel imports, but as yet, all of Japan's 48 commercial reactors remain offline due to safety concerns and ongoing checks, in the wake of the Fukushima crisis, which was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

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