But after passing final safety tests in May, and spending more than $100 million on new safety systems, Kyushu Electric Power restarted the number one reactor at its Sendai plant on Tuesday morning, The Guardian reports.
The restart marks Japan’s return to nuclear power, breaking a four-and-half-year nuclear energy deadlock because the 2011 meltdowns on the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear energy plant in northeastern Japan following the quake and tsunami.
The No. 1 rector at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant is one of just five of Japan’s 43 functional nuclear reactors to have been approved for operation under what Mr. Abe claims are the world’s highest safety standards.
But after a thorough simulation on Monday, the workers at the Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai complex turned on its No. 1 reactor.
Japan restarted a nuclear reactor Tues. for the 1st time since shutting down all of its facilities following the Fukushima melt-down in 2011.
The government has set a goal to have nuclear power meet more than 20 per cent of Japan’s energy needs by 2030, despite the lingering troubles at the Fukushima plant, which is plagued by massive flows of contaminated water leaking from its reactors.
A protester beats a drum during an antinuclear rally in front of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s official residence in Tokyo on Tuesday.
“But as we have so many earthquakes, people no longer have confidence in nuclear safety”, said the businessman. The plans call for the 2nd reactor to be restarted in October.
“The 31-year old reactor was likely to achieve running capability that is complete 00 pm” Tuesday, a Kyushu Electrical Power spokeswoman said.
Among the 200 protesters was Naoto Kan, prime minister at the time of Fukushima and now a high-profile anti-nuclear activist.
The other 47 units remain suspended as power companies depend more on fossil-fuel imports to generate electricity.
“Why did they choose to restart it on the 11th (day of the month, the same day as the Fukushima disaster), when the reactivation itself is heart-wrenching enough?” asked Haruko Kanai, 66, who had to evacuate from Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, due to radioactive contamination.
With its nuclear gasoline recycling program nonetheless stalled and plutonium stockpiles triggering worldwide considerations, Japan is beneath strain to make use of as a lot of the stockpiles as potential in its reactors.
“Rather than a nuclear renaissance, much of Japan’s ageing nuclear reactor fleet will never restart”, said Mamoru Sekiguchi, an energy campaigner at Greenpeace Japan.
Operators of the plant say they can remove the nuclear fuel in the event of an eruption. In July, the country’s energy ministry said they wanted nuclear power to account for 22 percent of Japan’s electricity by 2030.