Japan will resume full commercial operations of an atomic reactor for the first time since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami sparked the Fukushima nuclear accident.
The governor of Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido has approved the restart of the reactor, the first resumption of plants suspended since the nation’s nuclear disaster, AFP reports.
Harumi Takahashi said she would allow reactor number 3 at Tomari Nuclear Power Station on the island to resume operations under Hokkaido Electric Power Co. after local debate about its safety.
The reactor, which had been suspended for regular inspections, was supposed to resume operation in April, AFP reports.
It had been delayed in the wake of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, which has leaked radiation since it was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Almost three quarters of Japan's 54 reactors are now offline, mostly for regular safety checks, and many host communities have been reluctant to approve their restarts as anti-nuclear sentiment has grown in the quake-prone nation.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan has said he would like to phase out nuclear power in the long term, but for now the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) wants to resume reactor operations amid a summer electricity crunch.
Atomic plants met about one third of Japan's energy needs before the quake disaster, and business groups have warned that power shortages spell a serious threat to industry in the world's third-biggest economy.
Only 15 of Japan's 54 reactors are operating. Most of the rest are undergoing safety checks, as residents resist restarts as anti-nuclear sentiment has grown, the Vancouver Sun reports.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan has said he would like to eventually phase out nuclear power but for now the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) wants to resume reactor operations amid a summer-time power shortage, it reports.