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Japan to Power Up Nuclear Reactor

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Energy-starved Japan will regain nuclear-powered electricity on Sunday, as the first reactor to be switched on since last year’s Fukushima disaster comes online.

Kansai Electric Power Co. Ltd. (KEPCO) told CNN Wednesday that the No. 3 reactor at the country’s Ohi Nuclear Power Plant will be activated on July 1 and start providing electricity to western Japan — which includes Osaka, Japan’s second biggest city by July 4. Ohi’s No. 4 reactor is also scheduled to resume operations by July 24.

All 50 commercial nuclear reactors in Japan have been offline since May 5 for safety checks. The government has been conducting simulation tests for restarting its nuclear reactors in response to public concerns over their safety in the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant last spring.

Before the March 11 disaster, Japan had relied on nuclear energy for about 30% of its electricity needs, according to government figures.

Fukushima plant operator: We weren’t prepared

Meanwhile, all but one of Japan’s electric companies held their annual shareholders’ meetings Wednesday. In Osaka, where KEPCO’s board was meeting, protesters gathered outside the venue calling for the closure of all nuclear power plants. KEPCO’s largest shareholder, Osaka City, actually proposed closing the plants at some stage in the future as part of a reform of the company, but the motion was voted down, according to KEPCO’s public relations office.

Fukushima residents call for criminal charges

“Now it’s the time, the turning point in the energy supply system. I want the management to take a risk (of nuclear safety) into a consideration and aim to establish the new energy supply system,” said Toru Hashimoto, the mayor of Osaka, who attended the meeting.

In the capital, shareholders for the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) voted to accept one trillion yen (US$12.6 billion) from the government to allow the effective nationalization of the company. TEPCO is facing a financial crunch with mammoth compensation claims from residents and businesses in the wake of the Fukushima accident.

The estimated cost for compensation and the cleanup operation amounts to more than 100 billion yen (US$1.25 billion), according to TEPCO, Fukushima Daiichi’s operator.

Dozens of protesters also gathered outside the TEPCO meeting calling for shareholders and investors to vote for a shift away from nuclear energy.

Greenpeace, a vocal environment group, set up a banner that said: “Meltdown of stock prices. Go to Natural Energy!”

In a statement, Greenpeace activist Ayako Sekine said: “Nuclear power has been disastrous for Japan’s environment, the health of its people and its economy.”

“Investors face a huge financial risk if they allow themselves to be tricked into believing this disaster is a one-off hiccup.”


5 Comments on "Japan to Power Up Nuclear Reactor"

  1. BillT on Sat, 30th Jun 2012 2:29 am 

    And the beat goes on…until the next quake. And there are 30+ of these same reactors designed and built by GE in the Us with their fuel stored in pools above ground. I wonder who is next?

  2. Kenz300 on Sat, 30th Jun 2012 1:20 pm 

    The nuclear industry will not go down without a fight. TEPCO is bankrupt and is being propped up by the taxpayers of Japan. Nuclear energy is too dangerous and too costly. The disaster at Fukishima continues today and will be decades before it is cleaned up, if ever. The people of Japan need to stand up and demand an end to nuclear energy.

  3. Max Reid on Sun, 1st Jul 2012 2:35 am 

    Great News. This could reduce the Oil consumption and pollution.

    Remember, a 40 year old reactor withstood even a 8.9 scale earthquake. Its only the Tsunami that flooded the Diesel pumps and caused this issue. Lessons were learnt and they should have kept electric batteries to pump water now and should be safer.

    A nuclear plant in the neighborhood withstood both the quake and tsunami.

    In the absence of nuclear power its the dirty coal and heavy oil that is gaining ground. Soon the fast reactors will use all the radioactive waste and the biggest problem with nuclear will be gone.

  4. Nuclear on Sun, 1st Jul 2012 2:45 am 

    Thorium reactors are coming. Its high time nuclear power industry moves to support better technologies instead of banking on the technology where they already invested.

  5. Kenz300 on Sun, 1st Jul 2012 11:34 pm 

    Japan is tempting fate with its slow efforts to empty the spent fuel storage ponds at TEPCO’s Fukishima reactor. The building is damaged and susceptible to collapse in the next large earth quake. This nuclear disaster continues today and will take decades to clean up. The cost and environmental damage of nuclear energy disaster is too high. It is time to transition to safe, clean alternative energy sources.

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