japan | Clash over restarting Tomari nuclear reactor averted

Posted on August 12, 2011


JAPAN | JAPAN TIMES | 12 August 2011

SAPPORO — The industry ministry narrowly avoided clashing with Hokkaido over restarting commercial operations of a Tomari nuclear power plant reactor by opting to await Gov. Harumi Takahashi’s consent.

After the No. 3 reactor cleared the final test to check its safety Thursday, industry minister Banri Kaieda told reporters he hopes to issue a certificate on the completion of regular checks “as soon as possible” after winning Hokkaido’s consent.

Takahashi is expected to give her approval in the coming days after discussing the issue with local governments.

But the move will delay by several days the completion of an unusually long scheduled inspection process and the resumption of commercial operations at the reactor.

The reactor is already generating electricity at full capacity under a so-called adjustment operation in the inspection’s final phase, so restarting commercial operations would effectively make no difference in terms of its electricity output.

But the local government has expressed caution about approving the restart of commercial operations due to the public’s heightened concerns about nuclear power.

As the reactor 3 adjustment operation has already taken about five months, the industry ministry urged Hokkaido Electric Power Co. to apply for the final test of the inspection process to allow commercial operations to resume.

But after Takahashi criticized the ministry’s move for “disregarding” the safety of locals, Kaieda phoned the governor Wednesday to inform her that he would “await” her decision.

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