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Sendai shutdown: Mitazono ready for fight

July 29, 2016

New Kagoshima governor ready for Sendai plant shutdown fight





KAGOSHIMA--Satoshi Mitazono repeated his assertion that operations at Sendai nuclear power plant in the prefecture should be suspended at his first news conference as Kagoshima governor on July 28.

He said that he will make the request to Kyushu Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant, “between late August and early September.”

“As long as residents in the prefecture are feeling anxious due to the Kumamoto earthquakes, I strongly urge Kyushu Electric to temporarily halt the operations of the reactors and conduct another inspection,” Mitazono, a former TV journalist, said.

The new governor raised his voice as he made the remarks in response to a question about the suspension of the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the Sendai plant in Satsuma-Sendai, the only units in Japan currently in service.

Mitazono was elected as Kagoshima’s governor on July 10. The suspension of the Sendai plant’s operation for additional safety checks was one of his campaign pledges.

Although a governor has no legal authority to order a halt, Mitazono said, “Whether or not a governor has that authority and making a request to a utility are a separate issue.”

Regarding the method for how he will make the request and its contents, Mitazono said, “I will sum up the ideas while exchanging opinions with various people.”

Mitazono also referred to the possible decommissioning of the two reactors at the Sendai plants, which have been in operation for more than 30 years.

He plans to establish an expert panel to discuss nuclear plant-related issues in the near future including the decommissioning of the aging reactors.

The governor also expressed his view that “the construction of a new reactor would be difficult,” in reference to the proposed No. 3 unit that Kyushu Electric is planning to add at the plant.

During the news conference, he also said that he plans to increase the number of radiation monitoring posts around the Sendai plant from 73 to about 100.

The devices measure radiation levels near the plant and serve as a barometer for issuing an evacuation order to residents at the time of a nuclear accident.

“I want to install many high-performance ones,” Mitazono said.


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