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Sendai No.1 goes back online (2)

December 9, 2016

Kyushu Electric fires up Kagoshima reactor after governor gives OK




FUKUOKA – Kyushu Electric Power Co. restarted a nuclear reactor in Kagoshima Prefecture on Thursday after the prefectural governor, who is opposed to nuclear power, effectively permitted the move last week.

Reactor No. 1 at the Sendai nuclear power complex is one of five reactors to have been reactivated under stricter safety regulations adopted in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima reactor meltdowns. Following resumption in August 2015, its operation had been suspended for a regular checkup since Oct. 6.

The utility pulled out control rods from the reactor at around 9:30 p.m. The reactor is expected to achieve criticality by Friday morning and to start power generation from Sunday. Commercial operation is set to resume from Jan. 6.

Kyushu Electric on Tuesday notified Kagoshima Gov. Satoshi Mitazono of the planned restart of the reactor and was not requested to suspend it this time, it said.

Mitazono, who was elected in July on an anti-nuclear platform, asked the utility in August and September to immediately suspend operation of the plant. Reactor No. 1 came to a halt in October for a regular checkup.

The Sendai complex’s reactor No. 2 is scheduled to be suspended for regular checks from Dec. 16 to Feb. 27.

Mitazono had told the prefectural assembly earlier this month that he had no legal power to decide whether to restart the reactor, paving the way for the latest move.

On Thursday, however, Mitazono said that he will take “strong action, regardless of the reactor’s operation,” if an experts’ committee, which he plans to set up to examine safety at the plant, finds any safety problems.

Some 30 local residents and anti-nuclear group members gathered in front of the Sendai plant Thursday morning to protest the reactivation.



December 9, 2016

Sendai nuclear reactor restarts as governor stays quiet




SATSUMA-SENDAI, Kagoshima Prefecture--Kyushu Electric Power Co. restarted a reactor at its nuclear plant here on Dec. 8, drawing protests from anti-nuclear activists and a look of resignation from the man they helped to elect governor.

The procedure to remove control rods to allow nuclear fission in the No. 1 reactor at the Sendai plant started at 9:30 p.m., and the plant is expected to generate electricity for commercial use in early January.

The No. 1 reactor had been shut down for maintenance since Oct. 6.

The reactor is the first to be restarted after undergoing a routine checkup based on tighter safety standards adopted in light of the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Groups of protesters, including local residents, rallied against the restart and held placards in front of the Sendai plant Dec. 8.

The resumption of operations was particularly harsh for the anti-nuclear activists because they thought they had elected a leader who would shut down the plant.

But Kagoshima Governor Satoshi Mitazono kept his voice low and avoided giving any direct responses to media questions about the restart.

“The nuclear plant will remain here whether it is restarted or not,” Mitazono said earlier on Dec. 8.

The governor also said the prefectural government will soon organize a third-party committee that will examine the safety of the Sendai plant.

During the governor’s race in July, Mitazono indicated he would take a tough stance against the Sendai plant.

After he took office, he twice asked Kyushu Electric for an “immediate halt” to plant operations.

But Mitazono later toned down his words, repeatedly saying he has no legal authority to have the reactor restarted or not.

The No. 1 reactor was restarted as scheduled.

(This article was written by Shuhei Shibata and Takeshi Nakashima.)

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