Regional politics poses the final hurdle to nuclear restarts via The Economist


In mid-September the central government formally began the process of obtaining local government support for the reinstatement of nuclear energy.



All the country’s 48 nuclear reactors scattered countrywide remain offline, while the slowly building momentum towards the revival of nuclear energy begins to reach regional politics. The two reactors owned by Kyushu Electric Power have become a trailblazer by clearing the NRA’s safety stress test against seismic event and tsunami scenarios for the first time ever since such safety reviews began in July 2013.

The biggest hurdle facing regional reactor reactivation is heavy politicking. The next step for Kyushu Electric Power will be to obtain the consent of local governments around the plant. Other utility firms that applied for the restart of some 15 reactors have yet to clear the public consultation phase. Consensus from the local voting public is a self-imposed mandate adopted by the government, which deemed it an essential part of the restarting of nuclear reactors. The wisdom of that concession will be tested in the coming months as the reactivation of Kyushu Electric’s Sendai plants enters the final stages of regulatory, public, local and government approval. However, a gridlock in local parliament or angry anti-nuclear protests on the streets could easily stall progress and threaten the prospect of 15 other reactors currently awaiting the NRA’s seal of safety approval.

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