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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

30 days of public hearings

 July 16, 2014

Public hearings begin on restarting nuclear plant




Japan's nuclear regulator has begun accepting public opinions on a draft safety assessment it has approved for restarting a nuclear power plant in southern Japan.

The Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture could be the first nuclear plant in the country to be given permission to resume operations since the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Officials at the Nuclear Regulation Authority unanimously approved the draft on Wednesday.

They say Kyushu Electric Power Company, which operates the plant, has satisfied safety requirements that were strengthened for nuclear facilities following the accident.

The NRA will now have 30 days of public hearings starting from Thursday before finalizing the draft assessment.

At a news conference after Wednesday's meeting, the head of the NRA, Shunichi Tanaka, warned that meeting the new safety criteria does not automatically mean reducing the probability of accidents to zero.

He urged the utility to strengthen voluntary efforts to ensure the safety of the plant.

He also stressed that restarting the plant depends solely on a consensus of local residents, municipalities, and other parties concerned.

Tanaka suggested that his regulatory body should not be involved in making the decision.

It is now up to the central government and utility to convince residents and municipalities of the need to restart the plant and the appropriateness of safety measures for severe accidents.

Kyushu Electric will also be required to submit the detailed design of equipment at the plant to the NRA for approval, and clear other procedures for a restart.

Even if given the go-ahead, the reactors are not likely to be back on line before October.

Jul. 16, 2014 - Updated 21:23 UT

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