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NIIGATA, (Kyodo) Niigata Gov. Hirohiko Izumida expressed his intention Thursday to approve getting one of the reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant up and running for the first time since the entire facility was shut down by a major earthquake in July 2007.

Izumida’s statement, delivered at a session of the prefectural assembly, follows approval by the city of Kashiwazaki and the village of Kariwa, meaning all local authorities will have given the green light to resuming the plant’s No. 7 reactor.

The reactor could be restarted as early as this month. The facility’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said it will start the necessary work right away.

Full operation will start if the reactor passes a trial run of about 40 to 50 days.

Izumida reassured the assembly that the repaired reactor can withstand any future quake.

“Measures have been taken with the largest possible earthquake in mind,” he said.

Later, he told reporters he would retract his decision if any trouble occurs.

There are critics who question whether it is appropriate to resume operations because the plant could be hit by a major earthquake again.

All seven reactors have been suspended since the earthquake, but repair work on the No. 7 reactor, a 1.356-million-kw, advanced boiling-water reactor, finished earlier than others.

Tepco has been making up for the loss in electricity by boosting operations at its thermal power plants.

The central government was the first authority granting Tepco permission to restart the reactor. Repeated fires at the facility led Izumida to delay making a final decision.

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