Saturday, March 02, 2013

Japan To Restart Its Nuclear Reactors

In a speech to the Japanese Parliament, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to restart nuclear plants that pass tougher guidelines, which are expected to be adopted by a new independent watchdog agency, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), as early as July.

The Center supports Prime Minister Abe's decision.

All of Japan’s 50 operable nuclear reactors were shut down following the March 2011 triple meltdown, which spewed radiation across northern Japan after a huge earthquake and tsunami knocked out vital cooling systems. Two were later restarted as an emergency measure to avert power shortages in the heavily populated region that includes the cities of Osaka and Kyoto.

In January, the NRA released a list of its proposed safety regulations, which include:

Higher walls to protect against tsunamis,

Additional backup power sources for the cooling systems and

Construction of specially hardened earthquake-proof command centers.

Leaders from the previous Democratic Party government had vowed to slowly phase out nuclear power by the 2030s in favor of cleaner alternatives like solar and wind power. But Mr. Abe, who took power after his Liberal Democratic Party won national elections in December on a platform of economic revitalization, said the phaseout would keep Japan from the cheap electricity it needs to compete economically. (NYT, 2/28/2013)

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