Friday, November 07, 2014

2 Japanese Nuclear Reactors Approved For Restart

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has described nuclear power as essential to economic growth because Japan is now relying mostly on imported natural gas and coal for power.

One of the last major hurdles to restarting nuclear reactors in Japan was cleared Friday when a southern prefecture gave its approval.  Kagoshima prefecture’s decision clears the way for two reactors operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co. to reopen as soon as early next year, giving the nation its first electricity from nuclear power since September 2013 when the last of 48 reactors went offline.

Japan toughened safety regulations after the March 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The two reactors in the Kagoshima prefecture city of Satsuma Sendai cleared the regulations earlier this year.

Polls have consistently shown the public opposed to nuclear restarts by a 2-to-1 margin. In a poll conducted Oct. 18-19 by Kyodo News, 60% of respondents said they were against restarts, while 31% were in favor. Still, in the same poll, 48% said they supported the Abe administration, in line with other recent polls.

Other power companies hope to follow Kyushu Electric Power’s lead and reopen reactors next year. However, many of the nation’s 48 reactors are aging or located in seismically sensitive zones, and it is unclear when, if ever, the nation will once again get a significant portion of its power from nuclear plants.

The nuclear outages have hit the local economies of cities where plants are located, and electricity prices nationwide have risen some 20% since 2011 to cope with the rising cost of imported fuel.  (WSJ, 11/7/2014)

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