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Govt briefing (Ohi)

April 27, 2012

Govt. briefs on restart to people near Ohi plant



People living near the Ohi nuclear plant in central Japan are wrestling with whether to sign off on a plan to restart two of the facility's four reactors. The plant could be the first unit to resume operation in the year since an earthquake and tsunami triggered an accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Local residents brought various concerns to a public meeting to hear a government briefing Thursday on why it wants to restart the reactors.

Some 550 people attended the gathering that was open only to local residents. Activists opposed to the resumption of the reactors held a rally outside the venue.

Senior Vice-Minister for Industry, Mitsuyoshi Yanagisawa explained that experts have confirmed that technology is in place to keep the Ohi reactors cool even in the event of an earthquake and tsunami like the one that hit Fukushima.

A resident said Japan will not recover without the resumption of the Ohi plant and added that he is in favor of restarting the reactors if the government will seriously think about protecting people's lives.

Some participants expressed concerns that there is no quake-resistant office building at Ohi that would serve as a crisis center if an accident occurs. Others questioned whether restarting the reactors is even necessary.

A recent NHK poll suggests 54 percent of Ohi residents are in favor, or slightly in favor, of restarting the reactors for economic reasons. But 71 percent of survey respondents voiced concerns about the risk of an accident if the units go back on-line.

The mayor of Ohi says the town council will decide whether to approve restarting the reactors now that they have heard what residents have to say.

Of the country's 50 reactors only one is currently operating, but it will go off-line in about ten days. If the Ohi reactors are restarted they'll be the first to resume operations since March 11, 2011.


Residents to be briefed on Ohi plant restart plan


Residents of a town hosting the Ohi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture will gather a meeting on Thursday to hear about the Japanese government's plan to restart the plant's 2 reactors.

Ohi town officials say they will decide whether to approve restarting the reactors after hearing what the residents have to say.

The meeting is in response to a request by Ohi Town, following calls by industry minister Yukio Edano earlier this month for understanding on the need to restart the reactors.

Senior Vice Minister Mitsuyoshi Yanagisawa will explain how the 2 reactors have met the government's safety standards for resuming operations, and why they need to be restarted.

The meeting will be open only to local residents. More than 700 people are expected to attend.

All 50 of Japan's nuclear reactors will be offline when the last reactor still online in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido is shut down for regular inspections early next month.

If the government goes ahead and restarts the Ohi reactors, they will be the first to resume operations since the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

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