10 Août 2015
August 10, 2015
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
As about 100 demonstrators massed in front of company headquarters, Kyushu Electric Power Co. announced on Aug. 10 that it would resume operations at its Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture the following day.
The resumption of operations would be the first by a nuclear plant under stricter safety regulations imposed in the wake of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
At about 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 11, control rods at the No. 1 reactor of the Sendai plant will be removed to begin nuclear fission.
Kyushu Electric has informed the Nuclear Regulation Authority of its schedule for resuming operations at the Sendai plant.
On Aug. 10, company employees began a check to confirm the control rods were operating properly. If no problems arise from that inspection, work to resume operations will begin on Aug. 11.
About 12 hours after the control rods are removed, the No. 1 reactor is expected to reach criticality at which nuclear fission is self-sustaining.
If operations proceed smoothly, the plant will begin generating and transmitting electricity from Aug. 14. The reactor should reach its normal operating level by early September.
After the 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, operations at all nuclear plants in Japan came to a halt. Operations were temporarily resumed at the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture operated by Kansai Electric Power Co. Those reactors went offline in September 2013.
For the past year and 11 months, Japan has had no operating nuclear plants, but that hiatus will end with the Sendai plant resumption
The tougher safety regulations were implemented from July 2013. The NRA decided in September 2014 that the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the Sendai plant met those new regulations, the first time approval has been given under the stricter regulations.
Kyushu Electric plans to resume operations of the No. 2 reactor at the Sendai plant in mid-October.
Meanwhile, about 100 citizens gathered in front of Kyushu Electric headquarters in Fukuoka city's Chuo Ward on Aug. 10 to protest the resumption of operations.
Tatsuya Yoshioka, director of Peace Boat, which organized the rally, said, "I cannot understand why operations are resuming."
Introducing participants who had come from South Korea, Yoshioka said, "Nuclear energy is an issue that extends beyond national borders."
Hiroko Uehara, a former mayor of Kunitachi in western Tokyo who now serves as secretary-general of a group of mayors seeking to move away from nuclear energy, pointed out that evacuation plans for citizens living near the Sendai plant were insufficient.
"We cannot allow the resumption of operations that ignores the lives of residents," she said.
On Aug. 9, about 2,000 protesters marched around the heavily guarded Sendai plant and voiced their opposition to the reactor restart.
"Past arguments that nuclear plants were safe and nuclear energy was cheap were all shown to be lies," said writer Satoshi Kamata, one of the demonstration organizers. "Kyushu Electric is not qualified to resume operations because it has not completed an anti-quake structure to oversee a possible accident as well as a venting facility (that is designed to prevent damage to a reactor by lowering pressure within the reactor pressure vessel)."
(This article was compiled from reports by Junichiro Nagasaki, Yosuke Hiruma, Keisuke Tanaka and Shoko Ishizuka.)
August 10, 2015