Niigata governor gives Tepco green light on reactor inspections

Kyodo

Niigata Gov. Hirohiko Izumida said Thursday that he basically approves of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s plan to request government safety tests for two idled reactors at the world’s largest nuclear power plant, paving the way to restarting them.

Izumida’s assent allows the beleaguered utility ask the Nuclear Regulation Authority to determine whether reactors 6 and 7 at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power station meet new safety requirements introduced in July as a precondition for restarts.

Tepco said it will file the application on Friday.

The announcement came a day after Tepco President Naomi Hirose met with Izumida and promised to install additional safety equipment at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant to deal with severe nuclear accidents.

The company, which has been struggling to stay afloat since the triple meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex in March 2011, wants to reactivate its idled reactors to cut its fuel costs, which spiked when it returned to thermal power generation to offset the closure of its nuclear plants due to the Fukushima disaster.

The need to restart the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant was stipulated in a 10-year special business plan for Tepco, which is effectively under state control after being injected with ¥1 trillion in public funds last year.

Tepco owns the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 plants, as well as the giant Kashiwazaki-Kariwa complex — which has a total output capacity of 8.2 million kilowatts.