Two More Units In Japan Clear Safety Checks

Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority has cleared two more plants for restart based on preliminary safety assessments, Kyushu Electric Company's Genkai Units 3 and 4, but their restart is not likely until sometime this summer, media reports indicate.

Genkai NPPWhile the two reactors have been deemed safe under the more strident standards in the post Fukushima Daiichi disaster era, reports indicate that some local concerns have yet to be addressed. One of these is the advanced evacuation plans necessary under the new safety standards, which were expanded to include an area within 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) of nuclear power plants. Prior to the disaster, evacuation plans were required for an area 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) of a nuclear power plant.

While plans are in place, there are concerns that Kyushu did not go far enough with its planning. Within 18.6 miles of the plant in southwestern Japan in the Saga Prefecture, several municipalities, the nearby prefectures of Fukuoka and Nagasaki and the Genkai Sea. Within the same 18.6 mile radius are 17 islands that include a population of about 20,000 people.

The coastal population requires evacuation plans that include transportation by ship. As such, local concerns are focused on whether or not the plans include evacuations by sea that will work during inclement weather.

In addition, the Gengai plant, is close to the most severe earthquakes that have hit Japan since the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011 that triggered the events leading to the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Generating Station. Those quakes, in April 2016, were centered in the Kumamoto Prefecture in southern Japan.

To date, four other Japanese plants have passed the more strident safety standards, including Kyushu Electric Company's Units 1 and 2 at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant in the city of Satsumasendai in Kagoshima Prefecture and Kansai Electric Power Company's Takahama Nuclear Power Plant's Units 3 and 4. Of those, Sendai Unit 1 is operating, while Unit 2 undergoes extended safety checks following a refueling outage. Both cleared units at the Takahama Plant are shut down by judicial injunction at the behest of local citizens opposed to their restart.

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