5 Septembre 2016
September 5, 2016
The Governor of Kagoshima Prefecture Satoshi Mitazono has called Kyushu Electric Power Company's position extremely regrettable.
Mitazono had asked the operator of the Sendai nuclear power plant to suspend its 2 reactors and conduct another safety check after powerful earthquakes hit neighboring Kumamoto Prefecture in April.
Mitazono said he will soon make another request to the power company, after discussing the matter with officials and experts.
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
KAGOSHIMA--Kyushu Electric Power Co. on Sept. 5 knocked back a request by Kagoshima Governor Satoshi Mitazono to immediately shut down its Sendai nuclear power plant in light of recent earthquakes in the region.
Mitazono, who was elected in July on a campaign pledge to suspend the reactor operations for a safety review, submitted his request to Kyushu Electric on Aug. 26, citing concerns about active faults around the facility.
Michiaki Uriu, president of Kyushu Electric, delivered the company's response to Mitazono in person at the Kagoshima prefectural government office.
He said the two reactors at the Sendai nuclear plant would continue to generate electricity until mandatory safety inspections are carried out later this year.
The utility did, however, promise to give stronger backing to the prefectural government's review of evacuation plans and provide more information about the plant to local residents in the event of a natural disaster or nuclear accident.
Uriu told Mitazono, "We understand your concerns in all seriousness and plan to take steps to reduce the anxiety felt by Kagoshima residents."
Mitazono expressed dismay at Kyushu Electric’s decision and indicated he may submit another request to shut down the plant “if the need arises.”
"I strongly requested that in the wake of the earthquakes in Kumamoto the nuclear plant should be stopped for another inspection," Mitazono said. "I wish you could abandon the mind-set that nuclear plants are infallibly safe."
In his August request, Mitazono called for an immediate suspension of the nuclear plant operations and a further safety examination on grounds that residents of Kagoshima had become more concerned after a series of earthquakes from April hit Kumamoto Prefecture bordering Kagoshima to the north.
Kyushu Electric argued that the prefectural governor does not have the legal authority to suspend nuclear plant operations, which the utility said were vital for stable corporate performance.
The company also feared that if it went along with the request it could jeopardize operations at other nuclear plants around Japan.
The Sendai plant's No. 1 reactor will undergo a periodic safety inspection from Oct. 6, and the No. 2 reactor from Dec. 16.
Kyushu Electric said the inspections will incorporate seven factors asked for by Mitazono, including the reactor pressure vessel.
The utility also said it will undertake special additional inspections covering aspects not included in the governor's request, such as whether bolts on equipment had loosened.
The company pledged to provide additional vehicles to the 16 that elderly residents can use to evacuate in the event of an accident at the plant. The offer represents the company's commitment to providing support for the planned revision of evacuation plans.
But it rejected Mitazono's request for a study of active faults in the vicinity of the Sendai plant on the grounds that a considerable number of such studies had already been conducted.
The operator of the Sendai nuclear power plant in southwestern Japan says it will not suspend the plant's reactors despite a request by the governor of Kagoshima Prefecture to do so in order to recheck their safety.
The operator says it will instead conduct special inspections at the same time the reactors undergo regular inspections.
On Monday, the president of Kyushu Electric Power Company Michiaki Uriu handed a written reply to Governor Satoshi Mitazono.
It was in response to a request by the governor to stop the plant in light of rising concerns among residents after strong quakes hit neighboring Kumamoto Prefecture.
Two reactors at the Sendai plant went back online last year after the government imposed stricter regulations following the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
In his reply, Uriu said during the special inspections workers will check the equipment and the functioning of facilities that the governor is requesting.
He said the inspections will be conducted at the same time as the regular inspections which are scheduled from October for the No.1 reactor, and December for the No.2 reactor.
Other measures outlined in the reply include increasing the number of quake observation points around the plant by about 10 and preparing more vehicles to evacuate people from nearby social welfare facilities.
The document also said the utility will disclose more information on the state of the plant after an earthquake strikes.
Mitazono called Uriu's reply extremely regrettable. The governor said he will make another request after further consideration.