6 Avril 2012
April 6, 2012
Govt. approves new nuclear plant safety standards
Japan's government has adopted new safety standards for nuclear power plants as a step toward restarting 2 reactors supplying power to western Japan.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and 3 ministers approved the standards on Friday in their third meeting on the Ohi plant in Fukui Prefecture.
The standards call for utilities to take measures to retain some power sources to avoid a total blackout in the event of a powerful earthquake or tsunami. They also address steps to prevent the situation from worsening.
Plant operators are also asked to compile action plans to boost safety levels.
Economy minister Yukio Edano asked the government nuclear safety agency to make sure the Ohi plant, run by the Kansai Electric Power Company, meets the standards.
Edano also instructed the utility to draw up a timeline to implement the standards. The 4 ministers are to meet again after the utility turns over its replies to the requests.
Noda plans to send Edano to Fukui to seek understanding from local communities once the government confirms the plant's safety and determines that restarting the reactors can gain public support.
Despite growing public opposition to nuclear power, the government is trying to restart the reactors due to concern about power shortages this summer. The reactors are among 53 in Japan that have gone offline for safety checks.
The government says it hopes the standards will help convince host communities and the public of the safety of nuclear plants.