Japan's plans to restart nuclear reactor delayed again

06 February 2015

Japanese government's plans to restart the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant, the first nuclear facility in Japan proposed to be put into operation after the 2011 Fukushima disaster, is stuck again, as the plant needs the approval of the Nuclear Regulation Authority on procedural matters, Japan's NHK channel reported yesterday.

Kyushu Electric Power The two reactors of the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant had received safety approval in September last year and the operator Kyushu Electric Power Company had received consent to resume operation by June this year.

However, the NHK report says the plant still needs the approval of the Nuclear Regulation Authority on procedural matters and that the preparation of technical documents relating to this may take another two or three months.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government, which had ordered closure of all 48 nuclear reactors  in Japan following the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011, has since woken up to the problem of finding cheap power to run the country's factories and started pushing to bring some of these reactors back online.

Japanese opinion is now divided between the dangers of nuclear power and the high cost and environmental hazards of fossil fuels.

Japan, once the third-biggest user of nuclear power, is now looking to upgrade nuclear plants.

A powerful earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on 11 March 2011 caused a meltdown of three of the plant's six nuclear reactors.

The plant's failure led to the release of radioactive materials into the atmosphere and groundwater, in what is described as the worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.

Prime Minister Abe has assured the people of Japan that the nuclear power plants will not reopen unless they are 100 per cent safe.

For this, however, several documents on nuclear facility design and seismic stability have to be submitted before end reactors can restart.

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