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"Safety" standards

April 7, 2012


Ministers largely approve new nuclear safety standard

"(mainichi Japan) April 06, 2012"



TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and three ministers on Thursday largely approved a new safety standard for resuming idled nuclear reactors, industry minister Yukio Edano said after their meeting.

The four examined the new standard at their second meeting to consider whether to reactivate two reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, western Japan. They will hold a third meeting Friday to finalize details of the standard, Edano said.

Edano will then instruct the Oi plant operator, Kansai Electric Power Co., as well as the government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency to check whether the two idled reactors meet the new standard.

Provided the government decides to reactivate the Oi reactors, Edano will travel to Fukui Prefecture to explain the government's decision, Edano said.

Government sources said Edano may travel to Fukui as soon as Sunday to seek the approval of Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa for reactivating the two nuclear reactors.

To cope with remaining concerns about nuclear safety despite nuclear authorities' technical analyses through recent reactor stress tests, Noda earlier this week ordered that a new safety standard for resuming operation of idled reactors be set up.

A statement released after Thursday's ministers' meeting said nuclear power plants have been operated adequately and safety checks on reactors idled for periodic checks have been conducted in accordance with current laws.

But referring to the delay in establishing a new nuclear safety agency and enacting related new laws, the statement said the four ministers urge nuclear power operators when restarting reactors to "ensure safety exceeding the level required by regulations under the current law."

The new safety standard consists of three guidelines to reactivate idled reactors.

The first requirement is that reactors must have taken safety measures to prevent the loss of all power in the wake of earthquake and tsunami.

The second is that measures must have been taken to prevent the sort of situation seen at the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant even if reactors are hit by similar size earthquake and tsunami.

The third guideline includes the implementation of 30-point safety measures based on the analysis of the Fukushima crisis.

The Fukui prefectural government has called for the central government to present a provisional safety standard before reactivating the Oi reactors.

Since last year's nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi complex, triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami, no Japanese reactors have resumed operation after being shut down for mandatory periodic checkups.

Among the dozens of reactors idled for routine checks, the Oi reactors are the first that the government is considering allowing to resume operating, given the recent endorsement of results from the first stage of stress tests on them by the nuclear safety agency and the Nuclear Safety Commission.

Nuclear disaster minister Goshi Hosono and Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura also attended the meeting with Noda and Edano

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