Two reactors at Japan’s Sendai nuclear plant are due to become the first to be restarted in the country since the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima facility. The governor of Japan’s Kagoshima prefecture gave his approval, marking the final hurdle for the restart, which is now likely to happen next year.
Before the accident, caused by a massive quake and tsunami, about 30% of Japan’s power was nuclear-generated. All 48 plants were shut down after the event, but the government of Shinzo Abe has pushed hard for the plants to reopen arguing that the shutdown has hurt the economy, forcing Japan to import expensive fossil fuels to make up the power shortfall.
Local authorities were given the final say on whether to restart their commercial plants. The plant’s host town, Satsumasendai, had already voted in favour.
“I have decided that it is unavoidable to restart the No. 1 and No. 2 Sendai nuclear reactors,” Kagoshima Governor Yuichiro Ito told a news conference on November 7. “I have said that assuring safety is a prerequisite and that the government must ensure safety and publicly explain it thoroughly to residents.”
The reactors, operated by Kyushu Electric Power, will likely restart next year as further operational checks need to be passed.
In September, Japanese regulators gave the Sendai reactors their final approval saying safety standards introduced after the Fukushima disaster had been met.