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McCurry reports: "Japan is to resume the use of nuclear power for the first time since last year's triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi power plant after the government on Saturday approved the restart of two idled reactors."

Kaede Tanaka, 3, sits in her buggy with a Geiger counter placed on her lap, during an anti-nuclear protest in front of the Japanese prime minister's official residence in Tokyo June 8, 2012. (photo: Reuters)
Kaede Tanaka, 3, sits in her buggy with a Geiger counter placed on her lap, during an anti-nuclear protest in front of the Japanese prime minister's official residence in Tokyo June 8, 2012. (photo: Reuters)



Japan Nuclear Restart Gets PM's Approval

By Justin McCurry, Guardian UK

16 June 12

 

apan is to resume the use of nuclear power for the first time since last year's triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi power plant after the government on Saturday approved the restart of two idled reactors.

The decision to restart reactors three and four at Oi power plant in western Japan could pave the way for the resumption of operations at other atomic facilities, amid concern over power shortages during peak demand this summer.

The prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, announced the restart after securing support from the mayor of Oi and the governor of Fukui prefecture, where Oi is located.

"Having won local consent, reactivating [the reactors] is now the government's final decision," Noda said. "We are determined to make further efforts to restore people's trust in nuclear policy and safety regulations."

Japan's last working reactor was turned off in early May, leaving it without nuclear power for the first time in more than 40 years.

Four reactors at Fukushima Daiichi were destroyed by the 11 March 2011 tsunami and another 50 around the country were taken offline for regular maintenance. Oi is the first plant to pass simulation "stress tests" introduced last year to address public concern over safety.

Noda has pushed hard for the Oi restart under pressure from the powerful business lobby, which feared disruption to manufacturers. He was expected to give approval after the mayor of Oi, Shinobu Tokioka, gave his backing to the move earlier this week. Tokioka said nuclear safety experts had convinced him the plant could withstand a natural catastrophe similar to the one that struck Fukushima Daiichi.

He added that he was concerned about the effect prolonged closure would have on the local economy and the prospect of power shortages in the Kansai region of western Japan, home to 24 million people and with an economy the size of Australia's.

About 10,000 demonstrators gathered outside Noda's office on Friday night in last-ditch attempt to derail the restart. Anti-nuclear campaigners accused the prime minister of rushing into a decision and ignoring lingering concerns over safety. "Prime minister Noda's rushed, dangerous approval of the Oi nuclear power plant restart ignores expert safety advice and public outcry, and needlessly risks the health of Japan's environment, its people and its economy," said Junichi Sato, executive director of Greenpeace Japan.

"Japan has already survived the peak summer and winter energy demand periods once with little nuclear power online, as well as a full month with none, and despite continued fear-mongering statements from industry and government about the need for restarting Oi, the economy has still grown remarkably well and there have been no significant energy shortages."

The operator of the Oi plant, Kansai Electric Power (Kepco), had warned that the region would face a 15% electricity shortfall in July and August, and had urged consumers to make power savings.

But the trade and industry minister, Yukio Edano, warned against wastefulness, as it will take Kepco about six weeks to bring both reactors to full capacity. "Safety is our main concern," he said. "It will take some time for the reactors to begin generating electricity, and we request that people continue to save energy. If there are safety problems, the process could be delayed."

The government did not require local approval, but Noda and a small team of ministers have spent weeks attempting to win support from residents amid widespread fears over safety and a loss of trust in the nuclear industry in the wake of the Fukushima accident.

The Japanese public remains divided over nuclear power, more than a year after the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown sent radioactive materials into the atmosphere and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents.

According to a nationwide poll by the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper earlier this month, 71% of people cautioned against a rush to restart the Oi reactors, while 25% supported Noda's stance.

Noda has vowed to lessen Japan's dependence on nuclear power and increase the role of renewables. Nuclear once provided about a third of Japan's electricity, but plans to increase that share to more than 50% with the construction of more reactors was scrapped after the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown.

 

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+7 # Vardoz 2012-06-16 11:32
Oh my God. They are insane and the whole world will suffer ongoing deaths from cancer because of this! Our lives are in the hands of irresponsible, mindless polluters. They should use thermal power from Mt Fuji. Go to the medical implications of Fukushima by Dr. Helen Caldicott on UTube.
 
 
+2 # John Locke 2012-06-16 11:46
We already are, Radiation is in the grass that cattle feed on, and their milk is full of radiation our children are drinking. We are going to see a complete melt down of society within the next 20 years as Cancers of all types expand throughout the world...

But hey, money talks and Obama listens, two more are planned for the US even with the one in San Diego already showing signs of serious breaches...

The population of the world will indeed be thinned as the 1% want, just enough servents to serve their individual needs! That was what they tried to do with the AIDS Virus, developed by the US... but Radiation will finish the job!
 
 
+4 # Vardoz 2012-06-16 12:44
Actually Obama told the NRC that there was not enough money to build new plants although the NRC is funding research into building safer plant but Fukushima has already put the nail in our coffin.
 
 
0 # John Locke 2012-06-16 17:02
Vardoz: Obama approved two more, They will be built!
 
 
-6 # ericlipps 2012-06-16 11:39
Easier said than done. It would take years to build the power plants to exploit Fuji's thermal energy, and people can't wait years to be sure their lights and their refrigerators won't go off.
 
 
+6 # Rangzen 2012-06-16 11:54
How can they even consider re-starting Oi while a meltdown, vastly larger than those so far, at Fukushima Dai-ichi Unit 4 still hangs like the Sword of Damacles
over Japan and the entire plantet? Instead of re-starting Oi, why don't they properly attend to Fukushima No. 4 that threatens millions of lives and is capable of making all of Japan an unlivable dead zone?
 
 
+3 # Vardoz 2012-06-16 12:45
The whole planet will become a dead zone if this continues. I just read an article called the death of the Pacific.
 

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