JAPAN | Reactors not to be restarted despite ‘stress tests’: Niigata gov.

Posted on July 27, 2011

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JAPAN | MAINICHI | 27 July 2011

A photograph shows the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in Kashiwazaki and Kariwa, Niigata Prefecture.(Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Niigata Gov. Hirohiko Izumida said Tuesday he cannot allow three nuclear reactors in Niigata Prefecture to be restarted even if they pass a new safety assessment procedure introduced by the government in the wake of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

Noting that the government has not yet got to the bottom of the nuclear crisis triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, Izumida said in Tokyo that the so-called “stress tests” for reactors would be almost useless unless the cause of the accident is taken into consideration.

It is “impossible” to restart the Nos. 2 to 4 reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant under “fabricated safety,” he said. Both the Niigata plant and the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant are operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

The three reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant are currently categorized as undergoing “regular checks,” but TEPCO has been unable to resume operating them since a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck the Chuetsu region of Niigata Prefecture in July 2007.

Amid strong public concern over the safety of nuclear power, the government has decided to introduce two-stage stress tests, modeled after a nuclear safety review conducted by the European Union.

Under the stress tests, utilities will study the extent to which key installations would be able to withstand the impact of extreme natural disasters on a scale greater than expected.

After the first phase of the assessment, the government will decide on whether to allow the restart of reactors that have been idled for checkups, whereas the second stage will determine whether nuclear power plants should remain in operation.

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