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Restart of nuclear power plant in Japan okayed
Observer Online Desk
Publish Date : 2014-11-07,  Publish Time : 21:14,  View Count : 2
TOKYO: A governor gave final approval Friday for a nuclear power plant to restart in southern Japan, the first to resume operations under new safety rules imposed in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi meltdowns caused by an earthquake and tsunami.

Kagoshima Gov. Yuichiro Ito said the two reactors at the Sendai Nuclear Power Station would be restarted despite concerns among some local residents.

"All things considered, I must say that we still need to rely on nuclear energy, and it is extremely important for us to steadily carry out the plan," he told a news conference hours after the prefectural assembly endorsed the restart.

The Sendai reactors are expected to go back online early next year following on-site checks by regulators. Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority gave them passing grades in July under stricter safety requirements that factored in the lessons of the Fukushima meltdowns.

At the Fukushima plant on Friday, three workers were injured, one seriously, when a steel railing fell from the top of a tank being constructed to store contaminated water, the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said. The workers were not contaminated with any radiation, but one was unconscious and was airlifted to a hospital. He later regained consciousness, while the two others had less serious injuries.

Massive amounts of contaminated water continue to leak from the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors, hampering the plant's decommissioning, which is expected to take decades.

All 48 workable reactors in Japan have been off line for safety checks or repairs since the 2011 disaster, except for two that operated temporarily for about a year. The Sendai plant would be the first to restart under new safety rules imposed after the Fukushima crisis.

The plant's host town, Satsumasendai, has already voted to restart the plant. The governor's endorsement completes the required process of local consent.

Some residents were not convinced by the decision.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been pushing to restart some of the 48 reactors, saying a prolonged shutdown will hurt the economy. Japan is heavily dependent on imported sources of energy.

AP/ZA





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