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Osaka's conditions (prior to restarting reactors)

April 10, 2012


Osaka compiles new conditions for resumption of Oi nuclear plant 

Asahi, April 10, 2012 - http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201204100035

The central government is again marching steadily toward restarting reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant, but local governments in the area have raised the stakes for consenting to such a move.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and three of his Cabinet ministers on April 9 agreed that the road map for additional safety measures, submitted earlier in the day by Oi plant operator Kansai Electric Power Co., was generally appropriate.

"It is clear that the plant operator is taking a stance of ceaselessly implementing the measures needed to ensure the safety of the plant," said Yukio Edano, the industry minister who oversees the nuclear energy sector.

However, Edano indicated that a decision on resuming operations would not be made until the next meeting of the relevant Cabinet ministers, likely later this week.

In the meantime, the energy strategy council of the Osaka prefectural and municipal governments is putting together a set of eight conditions that it considers necessary before operations can resume at the Oi plant in Fukui Prefecture.

The Osaka municipal government is the largest shareholder of Kansai Electric, so its position will likely influence the central government’s decisions regarding the Oi plant.

The council is calling on the central government to not only establish a new nuclear regulatory agency and comprehensively revise its safety standards, but it is also asking that a new safety agreement be signed between Kansai Electric and all local governments within a 100-kilometer radius of the Oi plant.

Currently, such safety agreements are signed only between the nuclear plant operator and the local governments that actually host the plant.

However, the accident last year at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant showed that leaked radiation can quickly spread to a much wider area than simply the municipalities where the nuclear plant is located. In addition, the governors of Kyoto and Shiga prefectures, which border Fukui Prefecture, have raised objections to an early resumption of operations at the Oi plant.

A 100-kilometer radius around the Oi plant would cover not only Kyoto and Shiga prefectures, but part of Osaka Prefecture as well.

The central government has so far been determined to approve a resumption of operations at the Oi nuclear plant to prevent an electricity shortage in the high-demand summer season.

The central government compiled new provisional safety standards for resuming operations just two days after Noda retracted his opposition to such standards. Kansai Electric also submitted its safety road map only three days after it was asked to do so.

According to the road map, Kansai Electric plans to install venting equipment with filters to prevent the spewing of radioactive materials in the event of an accident. That installation is scheduled for completion in fiscal 2015.

But almost all of the measures included in the road map have been proposed by the utility in the past. About the only new measure included was to install permanent emergency power generation equipment.

The road map contained no details on equipment numbers and their locations.

At an April 9 meeting, officials of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy presented estimates of the effects of keeping idle all nuclear plants operated by Kansai Electric.

The officials estimated a 19.6-percent electricity shortage if temperatures reached levels of the hot summer of 2010. They also predicted an additional 800 billion yen ($9.8 billion) in fuel costs for Kansai Electric to operate its thermal plants in place of the nuclear reactors.


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