The governor of Japan’s Kagoshima Prefecture today approved the restart of the Sendai-1 and -2 nuclear reactor units after they became the first in the country to meet new safety standards imposed after the March 2011 Fukushima- Daiichi accident, the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (Jaif) said.
Yuichiro Ito’s approval to restart the two pressurised water reactor units, owned and operated by Kyushu Electric Power Company, follows approvals announced last week from the mayor and the local assembly.
Various legal and technical procedures remain, with actual restarts expected at the beginning of 2015 at the earliest, Jaif said. “The decision nevertheless marks a major turning point.”
In July 2014 Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) gave Kyushu Electric preliminary approval to restart the two units, pending local consultation and approvals.
The NRA said the station, in southwest Japan, met new safety standards designed to protect against everything from terrorist attacks to tsunamis like the one that led to meltdowns at Fukushima-Daiichi.
The new nuclear safety standards cover three main areas: design basis safety standards, severe accident measures and safety standards for earthquakes and tsunamis.
Operators of nuclear stations in Japan are obligated by law to take concrete steps to mitigate against the possibility of serious accidents. Until now, such action was voluntary.
All of Japan’s 48 operational reactors are offline while they undergo inspections to make sure they comply with new safety standards.
Sendai-1 and Sendai-2 are both 846-megawatt PWRs. Sendai-1 began commercial operation in July 1984 and Sendai-2 in November 1985.