Ehime governor gives OK for reactor restart


Ehime became the second prefecture Monday to give a nod to restarting a nuclear power plant after the nation’s reactors were idled in the wake of the March 2011 start of the meltdown crisis at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant.

Ehime Gov. Tokihiro Nakamura conveyed his approval for restarting reactor 3 at the Ikata nuclear power plant when he met Hayato Saeki, president of Shikoku Electric Power Co., which operates the plant in the town of Ikata in the prefecture, Monday morning.

The reactor in July passed the screening by the Nuclear Regulation Authority under stricter standards introduced in light of the Fukushima disaster. Ikata Mayor Kazuhiko Yamashita gave his consent to its restart, and the prefectural assembly has adopted a resolution saying “there is the need to restart” the reactor, making it likely the governor will approve resumption of the reactor’s operation.

The govenor’s approval has made the prefecture the second to have given the nod to restart a nulcear plant among those that have reactors that passed the strictor standards. It follows the November 2014 approval by the Kagoshima governor and prefectural assembly to restart reactors 1 and 2 at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear plant.

The Ikata reactor 3 is expected to return to operation as early as early next year, pending clearance of the remaining part of the screening, such as details of equipment design plans. The Ehime governor is expected to meet Economic and Industry Minister Mikio Hayashi in Tokyo and convey his decision Monday afternoon.

In the screening process, the NRA estimated the largest possible ground motion in earthquakes for Ikata reactor 3 at 650 gals. In response, the governor demanded Shikoku Electric Power to make it possible for the unit to withstand even larger jolts. The utility subsequently implemented additional safety work to the reactor and claimed it would now withstand shakes of up to some 1000 gals.