A nuclear reactor in western Japan began starting back up on Tuesday after a month’s hiatus, the first reactor in the country closed for any reason to win approval from a local government to resume operations since the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Only 10 of Japan’s 54 reactors are now generating electricity, a sharp reduction for an industry that once supplied 30 percent of the country’s electricity. The shortfall in supply forced the Tokyo Electric Power Company to tell companies to slash energy use by 15 percent this summer.
The government has been keen to soothe local jitters about nuclear energy and enable reactor restarts. But power companies must submit results of “stress tests” that evaluate a reactor’s defenses against earthquakes, tsunamis, station blackouts and the loss of water for cooling — and they must get a go-ahead from local the government.
In a statement, the Japanese arm of the environmental group Greenpeace, criticized the decision to restart the reactor.
“In the aftermath of the Great East Japan earthquake and triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi, it is unthinkable for any nuclear plant to be restarted before proper safety checks or consultation with the public is conducted,” said Junichi Sato, the group’s executive director for Japan.
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