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Japan steps closer to restarting nuclear power plants



Japan’s atomic regulator has today approved safety reports for two nuclear reactors, three years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster led to their closure.

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The reactors were approved by a commissioners meeting in Tokyo today, with two more steps of approval yet to go before the reactors can return to an operational standard. The process has become stricter after the Fukushima melt down, with considerable pressure being put on the Nuclear Regulation Authority to improve measures.

The two units, owned by Kyushu Electric Power Co, are unlikely to restart until next year. Japan has had to endure a whole year with no nuclear power, with its 48 operational nuclear power plants shut down for safety reviews.

The closures has led to prime minister Shinzo Abe opening more of the countries coal, oil and gas plants to take the energy shortfall, driving up fossil fuel imports and subsequently, Japans national deficit.

Kyushu Electric, alongside nine other utility companies have requested safety tests on 20 reactors, confident of their resolve. City and prefectural governments also get a say in the process.

Owners of the Fukushima power plant that melted down three years ago have struggled to contain the radioactive fallout from the plants reactors. An ice-wall is currently under construction, yet doubts remain over the wall’s effectiveness in containing underground contamination from spreading into nearby water sources.

Biological defects on wildlife have also been linked to the plants meltdown, with scientists finding evidence of population declines and genetic damage in species around the plant.

Photo source: Nuclear Regulatory Commission via Flickr

Further Reading:

Blood defects in Japanese monkey linked to Fukushima nuclear disaster

Doubts surround effectiveness of Fukushima Ice Wall

Thyroid cancer cases rise among Fukushima children – but link to nuclear disaster contested

Radioactive water leak found at Fukushima nuclear plant

No ‘going home plan’ for many Fukushima residents