The governor of Japan’s Kagoshima prefecture has given his approval for the restart of the Sendai nuclear power plant. The plant looks set to resume operation early next year, having now received all the necessary local consents for this.
Kagoshima governor Yuichiro Ito today approved the restart of units 1 and 2 of Kyushu Electric Power Company’s Sendai nuclear power plant. His consent closely followed the approval by the prefectural assembly of a petition asking for the restart of the reactors. That petition was approved by a special nuclear energy committee of the prefectural assembly on 6 November.
All of Japan’s 48 operational nuclear reactors were gradually taken off line following the March 2011 accident at Fukushima Daiichi. A new regulatory regime has since been created and by mid-2013 the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) had rewritten the country’s requirements for nuclear power plant safety. Power companies then submitted applications for reactor restarts, which have progressed slowly.
The two 890 MWe pressurized water reactors at Sendai were taken offline for periodic inspections in May and September 2011, respectively. The restart of the units has been prioritised, in part due to local support in Kagoshima prefecture.
On 28 October, the municipal government of Satsumasendai – which hosts the Sendai plant – and the city’s mayor gave its approval for the units’ restart.
Other towns near the Sendai plant have said they should be able to have a say in that decision. However, the Kagoshima governor has reportedly said that obtaining approval from the surrounding municipalities is not a requirement since they do not host the plant.
The federal government retains the ultimate say in whether nuclear power plants will restart
Kyushu’s technical plan to meet the new regulations was approved by the NRA on 10 September this year and the company has now made the engineering changes at the plant itself. A report on the changes to unit 1 was submitted on 8 October while that for unit 2 followed on 24 October. The unit 1 report also includes details of changes to Kyushu’s operational routines and emergency management procedures. All these are to be checked and inspected by the NRA in a process which represents the last technical challenge for Kyushu before potential approval for the two reactors at Sendai to restart
The reactors are not expected to restart until the beginning of 2015 at the earliest.