Workers in the control room restart reactor 1 at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture Thursday night
Sendai reactor goes back online
Operators have powered on a nuclear reactor at a plant in western Japan on Thursday night after 2 months of inspections.
Officials at Kyushu Electric Power Company say workers have begun pulling control rods out of the Number One reactor at their Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture.
The reactor has been offline since October. Before that, it operated for 14 months as the first reactor in the country to go online under new regulations following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
The utility says it found no abnormalities during its regular and special inspections.
The special checks were added at the request of Kagoshima Governor Satoshi Mitazono, who took office in July. He asked the utility to see if strong earthquakes that occurred at nearby Kumamoto Prefecture in April had affected the plant.
Officials say they expect the reactor to reach criticality on Friday and begin transmitting electricity to the grid on Sunday. They also expect the plant to resume commercial operations in early January.
A group opposing the restart held a rally on Thursday outside the facility. Group leader Yoshitaka Mukohara said a proposed prefectural panel should first give a judgment before the reactor is brought online.
Governor Mitazono had promised to set up an expert panel to look into the reactor’s safety, but it has yet to be launched. Mukohara urged the governor to stick to his position.
Kyushu Electric fires up Kagoshima reactor after governor gives OK
FUKUOKA – Kyushu Electric Power Co. restarted a nuclear reactor in Kagoshima Prefecture on Thursday after the prefectural governor, who is opposed to nuclear power, effectively permitted the move last week.
Reactor No. 1 at the Sendai nuclear power complex is one of five reactors to have been reactivated under stricter safety regulations adopted in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima reactor meltdowns. Following resumption in August 2015, its operation had been suspended for a regular checkup since Oct. 6.
The utility pulled out control rods from the reactor at around 9:30 p.m. The reactor is expected to achieve criticality by Friday morning and to start power generation from Sunday. Commercial operation is set to resume from Jan. 6.
Kyushu Electric on Tuesday notified Kagoshima Gov. Satoshi Mitazono of the planned restart of the reactor and was not requested to suspend it this time, it said.
Mitazono, who was elected in July on an anti-nuclear platform, asked the utility in August and September to immediately suspend operation of the plant. Reactor No. 1 came to a halt in October for a regular checkup.
The Sendai complex’s reactor No. 2 is scheduled to be suspended for regular checks from Dec. 16 to Feb. 27.
Mitazono had told the prefectural assembly earlier this month that he had no legal power to decide whether to restart the reactor, paving the way for the latest move.
On Thursday, however, Mitazono said that he will take “strong action, regardless of the reactor’s operation,” if an experts’ committee, which he plans to set up to examine safety at the plant, finds any safety problems.
Some 30 local residents and anti-nuclear group members gathered in front of the Sendai plant Thursday morning to protest the reactivation.