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Fukushima Plant Operator Intends to Restart Reactors Elsewhere via The New York Times

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The Tokyo Electric Power Company, known as Tepco, said it would soon apply to restart two of the seven reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, the world’s biggest nuclear power station by capacity. That plant, about 140 miles northeast of Tokyo, was not affected by the earthquake and tsunami that wreaked havoc at Fukushima Daiichi, but Kashiwazaki-Kariwa does sit atop fault lines and was damaged in a 2007 quake caused by another fault.

The company says it needs to get the reactors back online to stem the losses it has suffered since the reactor meltdowns at Fukushima.

It is unclear if Tepco will face more scrutiny than other utilities; some experts have warned that Tepco is overwhelmed by the difficult cleanup at Fukushima. Recent leaks of contaminated water revealed major flaws in the company’s storage of the tons of radioactive water that is generated daily as groundwater flows into damaged reactor buildings, adding to a string of mishaps.

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Japan’s utilities have been encouraged by the pro-nuclear stance of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has largely reversed government policy conceived under a more liberal government that had hoped to phase out the nuclear power program.

Mr. Abe appears to be counting on his ability to convince the Japanese that they will now be safe because the government has replaced its previous nuclear regulatory agency — which had been heavily criticized for its close links to the power industry — with a more independent one. The new regulators devised the latest safety standards.

But local communities will also have a say in signing off on restarts, and the governor of Niigata Prefecture, where Kashiwazaki-Kariwa is located, remains opposed, especially until Tepco reaches a fuller understanding of the safety lapses that led to the Fukushima disaster.

“Trying to push through the restarts now shows they’ve learned nothing from what happened in Fukushima,” Hirohiko Izumida, the governor, told the Nikkei business daily on Monday. “There must be a full accounting of why there was so much damage.”

The seismic faults running underneath the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa site could be a hurdle in winning local approval. Tepco has not said when it might apply to restart the plant’s other five reactors.Tepco says the faults have not been active for at least 120,000 years, and that it has made the necessary fortifications at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant to withstand quakes.

Tepco also says its finances have been crippled by the compensation it is paying to the victims of the Fukushima disaster, which at one point had displaced more than 100,000 people. The power company was effectively nationalized last year to help pay for the mounting claims.

Tepco’s bottom line has also been damaged by the costs of the cleanup, as well as by expensive imports of fuel for the conventional power stations that now provide most of the power to the Tokyo region.

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Full story Fukushima Plant Operator Intends to Restart Reactors Elsewhere

Related articles:

TEPCO seeks screening to restart nuclear reactors with eye on grim financial status via The Mainichi

Niigata governor blasts TEPCO for applying for screening to reactivate nuclear plant via The Mainichi

 

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