Fukui Governor Approves Ohi Restarts

The Fukui Prefecture government in Japan said Monday that it had granted utility Kansai Electric Power Company permission to restart the Ohi nuclear power plant's No. 3 and 4 units, which the company said it expects to happen in January and March of 2018.

Ohi NPPIt would be the sixth and seventh reactors to gain approval and restart since Japan ordered all 50 of the country's reactors to shut down following the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Generating Station on the main island's northeast coast. In a press conference, according to Reuters, prefect governor Issei Nishikawa said, “I have agreed to the resumption of the reactors after considering all the various factors.” According to World Nuclear Association, the governor informed the national government of his decision with a phone call to economy, trade and industry minister Hiroshige Seko.

The units at Ohi are 1189 MWe pressurized water reactors that were among the last in Japan to shut down, having been restarted in August 2012. They operated briefly before being shut down again for inspections by the national regulator the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA).

The NRA is slated to conduct another inspection at the plant on the Sea of Japan, north of Kyoto, before re-start ups at Ohi get underway. Through the NRA, the national government has the final say on a nuclear reactor's restart.

While Japan struggles economically under the mandate to switch to imported fossil fuels as a replacement for nuclear power, the number of viable restarts has fallen to 42 reactors, the others deemed too expensive or too old for retrofits that would allow for restarts. The five current reactors in operation include Sendai Units 1 and 2 (operated by Kyushu Electric Power Company), Ikata Unit 3 (Shikoku Electric Power Co.) and Takahama Units 3 and 4 (Kansai Electric Power Co.).  

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