Japan is set to restart a mothballed nuclear reactor for the first time in two years on Tuesday, the operator said, as anti-atomic sentiment still runs high following the 2011 Fukushima crisis.
“In order to avoid a disaster similar to Fukushima, our company wants to provide peace of mind to the region by improving the safety of our nuclear power plant”, Michiaki Uryu, president of Kyushu Electric, said in a statement on Tuesday morning after the company deemed the No. 1 reactor at Sendai restarted.
Japan is reopening the Sendai Nuclear Power Unit, the first nuclear facility to reopen since the Fukushima Daichii nuclear disaster over four years ago.
English: Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. “This means much better training and nurturing a culture of safety, but it is clear that these significant risks remain unaddressed in the rush to restart. It’s a positive signal that the Japanese market is going to return and bring back it’s reactors and we’ve been watching them closely”, Alice Wong, senior vice-president with Cameco, said.
“Accidents are unpredictable; that’s why they happen. And certainly not all the necessary precautions for such accidents have been taken here”, Mr Kan said.
The 31-year-old reactor operating under tougher post-Fukushima safety rules was expected to reach full capacity around 11:00 p.m. Tuesday and would start generating power by Friday.
How many Japanese reactors will eventually come back online remains unclear.
Since shutting down all nuclear plants, the island nation has imported greater amounts of expensive natural gas and coal to meet its energy needs.
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Asahi Shimbun concluded by criticizing the ongoing “systemic vulnerability” of the nuclear reactors. “Accepting them as permanently closed would have financial implications that would be hard to manage”, said Tomas Kaberger, chairman of the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation.
The No. 3 reactor at the Ikata power plant, where a safety screening was completed in July, is also regarded as a strong candidate for restart.
Removal of melted fuel from the three reactors – the most challenging part of the 30- to 40-year cleanup – will not begin until 2022.
Still, the government favors restarting other plants judged to meet the new safety criteria, for both economic and political reasons.
Japan’s powerful pro-nuclear lobby is hoping a safe restart at Sendai, about 1,000km south of Tokyo, will help the public overcome the trauma caused by the Fukushima meltdown.
Japan also faces pressure to use its stockpile of more than 40 tons of weapons-usable plutonium, enough to make thousands of nuclear weapons. Japan now has 43 operable nuclear power plants.
The fact that radioactive waste will only accumulate as long as atomic power plants are operated poses a serious challenge.