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Mitazono calls again for reactor halt

September 7, 2016

Governor calls again for Sendai plant suspension



The governor of Kagoshima Prefecture, home to the Sendai nuclear power plant, has urged the plant operators in person to halt the reactors for fresh safety checks.

Satoshi Mitazono met Kyushu Electric Power Company President Michiaki Uriu at the utility's headquarters in Fukuoka Prefecture on Wednesday.

Mitazono asked Uriu to stop the reactors as soon as possible and conduct fresh checks to ensure the safety of nearby residents.

The governor also asked that the utility address issues that residents are still worried about. These include concerns about some evacuation routes and preparations for possible accidents.

Uriu said the company will work sincerely to ease concerns and boost safety at the plant and public confidence.

Kyushu Electric on Monday had rejected the governor's earlier request for suspending operation of the reactors.

The governor called for the suspension last month in view of growing concerns among residents following recent strong earthquakes in neighboring Kumamoto Prefecture.

Utility officials had replied that they would not immediately suspend operation, but perform special checks instead when the reactors are suspended during the regular inspection period next month.

Uriu said the utility would conduct the special inspections thoroughly.

The reactors at the Sendai plant went back online last year after the government imposed stricter regulations following the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Kagoshima governor once again requests nuclear reactor halt

September 7, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)




FUKUOKA (Kyodo) -- Kagoshima Gov. Satoshi Mitazono once again requested Wednesday that Kyushu Electric Power Co. immediately suspend the operation of two reactors at its nuclear power plant in the southwestern prefecture after the utility rejected his earlier call.

Following a meeting with Mitazono in Fukuoka, Kyushu Electric President Michiaki Uriu indicated to the press that the operator is likely to reject the request, saying he wants the company to be "spared of" the suspension as it will conduct "special safety checkups" thoroughly on the Sendai nuclear plant reactors -- two of only three nuclear reactors currently operating in Japan.

The latest request came after the new governor demanded on Aug. 26 that the utility halt the plant's Nos. 1 and 2 reactors to verify their safety, citing local worries about the plant's safety after major earthquakes rocked neighboring Kumamoto Prefecture and its vicinity in April.

Kyushu Electric rejected the request on Monday, suggesting instead that special checks be conducted on the reactors using underwater cameras to prove the facility's safety during its upcoming regular maintenance. The utility's response prompted Mitazono to express his dissatisfaction.

The governor has no legal power to suspend the operation of the reactors.

The Nos. 1 and 2 reactors at the Sendai plant are scheduled to go through a roughly two-month-long regular checkup from Oct. 6 and from Dec. 16, respectively, during which the plant's operation will be suspended.

Currently, the two Sendai reactors and one reactor at Shikoku Electric Power Co.'s Ikata plant in western Japan are operating in the country after passing tougher safety checks introduced in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear power plant crisis triggered by a powerful earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.


Kagoshima governor repeats demand for halt to nuclear plant




September 7, 2016 at 13:50 JST

FUKUOKA—Stung by an earlier rejection, Kagoshima Governor Satoshi Mitazono on Sept. 7 again demanded that Kyushu Electric Power Co. immediately suspend operations of the Sendai nuclear power plant for safety inspections.

Mitazono, who won the gubernatorial election in July on a campaign pledge to halt operations of the nuclear plant in his prefecture, handed a letter of his demands to Kyushu Electric Power President Michiaki Uriu at a building beside the company’s head office in Fukuoka.

“As the governor, I have to protect the safety of residents,” Mitazono told Uriu. “There are also requests (from residents) concerning roads and vehicles for evacuations. In order to protect the safety of the people in my prefecture, please make a bold decision.”

Uriu remained noncommittal to the governor’s request.

“We will consider your demands in a sincere manner toward further reducing anxieties over the nuclear power plant among the people in Kagoshima Prefecture and from the viewpoint of further improving the safety and trustworthiness of the nuclear power plant,” Uriu said.

On Aug. 26, at a Kagoshima prefectural government building, Mitazono conveyed to Uriu growing public concerns of a possible accident at the nuclear power plant in Satsuma-Sendai in light of the powerful earthquakes that hit neighboring Kumamoto Prefecture in April.

The governor asked Uriu to suspend operations of the nuclear plant for safety inspections and strengthen support for the prefectural government’s evacuation plans in the event of a disaster.

On Sept. 5, however, Uriu visited the Kagoshima prefectural government and told Mitazono that Kyushu Electric will continue operating its two reactors at the nuclear plant until regular inspections start later this year.

But Uriu added that the company will take additional “special inspections,” apart from the regular inspections.

He also said Kyushu Electric will additionally deploy more than 10 vehicles to support evacuations of elderly residents in the event of a disaster and that it will disclose seismometer data at the nuclear plant in real time.

Those additional measures did not satisfy Mitazono. He criticized Uriu’s refusal to shut down the reactors as “extremely regrettable.”

A governor does not have the legal authority to order a shutdown of a nuclear power plant. But under safety agreements, a prefectural government can call for measures deemed necessary to ensure the safety of the plant based on an inspection of the site.

On Sept. 5, Kyushu Electric applied to the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the country’s nuclear safety watchdog, for regular inspections of the No. 1 reactor at the Sendai plant starting on Oct. 6. It also plans to implement regular inspections of the No. 2 reactor from Dec. 16.

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