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Nuclear regulator sees no need to halt reactors despite quake concerns via The Mainichi

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority said Monday the safety watchdog has no plan to halt operating nuclear reactors in southwestern Japan despite concerns about a recent wave of earthquakes hitting the neighboring region, as there have been no signs of safety problems at the facility.

“We will not make such a judgment (to halt the reactors) unless there is a scientifically convincing basis,” Shunichi Tanaka said about the Sendai nuclear complex in Kagoshima Prefecture, at a press conference after a special meeting of the NRA earlier in the day.

The NRA held the meeting after a string of earthquakes on the southwestern Japan island of Kyushu killed more than 40 people and injured over 1,000 people since the first major quake with a magnitude of 6.5 hit Kumamoto Prefecture in central Kyushu on Thursday night.

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The other three nuclear facilities are the Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture, the Ikata complex in Ehime Prefecture and the Shimane facility in Shimane Prefecture, run by Kyushu Electric, Shikoku Electric Power Co. and Chugoku Electric Power Co., respectively. They are all offline with their spent fuel rods stored in pools.

The levels of earthquake acceleration recorded at the four plants were all below those that trigger automatic shutdowns, with the biggest acceleration of 20.3 gals registered at the Genkai nuclear power station in northwestern Kyushu, according to the NRA.

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The nuclear watchdog said that the potential impact of jolts caused by that fault zone on the safety of the Sendai plant is limited as the complex is located about 90 kilometers from the fault zone.

The government also has no intention of stopping the two Sendai reactors, with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga saying that there is no reason to halt them.

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