Japan restarts nuclear reactor after two-year hiatus

Tokyo, Aug 11 (IANS) Japan on Tuesday restarted a nuclear reactor in the Sendai plant in Kyushu’s Kagoshima prefecture, making it the first utility to do so following the 2011 Fukushima crisis.

The Fukushima accident resulted in the shutting down of all of Japan’s commercial reactors by the end of September 2013 due to safety concerns. One year later, the Sendai plant obtained safety clearance from the Nuclear Regulation Authority, becoming the first nuclear facility to meet the new, stricter regulations, Xinhua reported.

According to the utility’s operator Kyushu Electric Power Co., the number one reactor in Sendai plant is expected to reach criticality around 11 p.m. Tuesday and begin generating electricity on Friday. It will enter commercial operation in early September and the resumption of Sendai’s number two unit will likely come in October.

The Japanese government has sought to reactivate nuclear reactors that have obtained safety clearance from the regulator, despite the majority of the public being opposed to it in media polls.

On Monday about 400 protesters rallied in front of the Sendai plant. One demonstrator told reporters: “I can never tolerate this. I cannot stand they are resuming the reactor when the Fukushima nuclear accident remains far from being solved.”

On Tuesday morning, dozens of antinuclear protestors gathered in front of the prime minister’s office, opposing the restart.

“The accident at the Fukushima plant is not over,” said Honami Fujita, a 50-year-old housewife from Kanagawa prefecture near Tokyo. “Who would take responsibility if an accident like Fukushima happens again?”

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