Japan clears restart of third nuclear power unit

Tokyo, Oct 26 (IANS) The government of Japan on Monday approved the reactivation of the Ikata nuclear plant, the third to become operational under new and strict security regulations following the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

Tokihiro Nakamura, governor of Ehime prefecture, on Monday announced the approval to restart the third nuclear unit at Shikoku Electric Power Company’s Ikata plant after a meeting with the company’s representatives, Efe news agency reported.

The plant, however, is not expected to become operational till January 2016.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) had approved the reactivation of the plant in July.

The Ikata plant was the fifth nuclear reactor to get clearance from the NRA after it complied with the post-Fukushima norms.

Of these five reactors, so far only the first and second units of the Sendai plant have become operational, on August 11 and September 15.

The restarting of first reactor ended nearly two years of nuclear blackout in Japan — the longest in the country since it began to produce atomic energy in 1966 — following the Fukushima accident, the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl (Ukraine) in 1986, caused by an earthquake and a tsunami.

Of the 43 nuclear reactors in operational conditions in the country, 25 have sought NRA supervision for future reactivation.

Tokyo estimates 20 to 22 percent of electricity in the country will be coming from nuclear plants by 2030, slightly lower than the 30 percent before the Fukushima disaster.

Radioactive emissions and spills from the disaster left around 110,000 people displaced and have severely affected agriculture, livestock and fishing in the region.

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