04/16/2024, 18.40
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Niigata: First approval to restart Japan's largest nuclear power plant

by Angeline Tan

Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority has authorised Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings to start loading fuel. The nuclear plant is one of the largest electricity producers in the world. The local governor has not yet agreed to then restart.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) – Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) yesterday approved plans by the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO) to load fuel in one of the reactor units of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant for the first time since restrictions were imposed after the 2011 Fukushima accident.

The reactor has not yet been authorised to resume operations; for this to happen, it will need Niigata Governor Hideyo Hanazumi's approval, Jiji Press reports.

TEPCO will need a month and a half to check whether the fuel assemblies are correctly placed and whether the emergency reactor core cooling system functions properly.

In 2017, two reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant passed NRA checks for restarting, but approval was reversed in 2021. Last month, TEPCO applied to conduct the necessary tests for reactor 7.

The company also plans to increase the number of night-shift workers from eight to 51 and prepare portable radiation monitoring posts.

Governor Hanazumi has yet to announce whether he will agree to restart the reactor.

So far, he has called for discussions on safety measures in the event of a nuclear accident, while the central government has sought approval from the local administration to restart nuclear power production.

About 60 people staged a protest in front of the Niigata Railway Station and handed a protest letter to a TEPCO official.

After the Fukushima disaster of 2011, all nuclear reactors currently operating in the country received the consent of the local government before restarting.

The mayors of city of Kashiwazaki and the village Kariwa also came out in favour of the restart.

The seven-unit nuclear plant that straddles the two areas has a maximum output of 8.212 million kilowatts, making it one of the largest electricity producers in the world.

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