• Kyodo


A reactor at the Tomari nuclear power plant in Hokkaido became the first to resume full commercial operation since the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 plant after Hokkaido Gov. Harumi Takahashi officially gave her approval Wednesday.

The Tomari plant’s reactor 3 is the first of the reactors undergoing regular inspections at the time of the Fukushima crisis to go fully online again.

However, because the reactor has already been generating electricity at full capacity under what is known as an “adjustment operation” in the final phase of the inspection, there will be effectively no difference in output as it shifts to commercial operation.

The reactor began undergoing a regular inspection in January and started the adjustment operation on March 7, before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami triggered the nuclear crisis in Fukushima.

The checks were supposed to end in early April, but Hokkaido Electric Power Co. applied for the final test of the inspection process only recently because it had to enhance its safety measures in response to the nuclear crisis.

In announcing her approval at a news conference Wednesday, Takahashi called on the central government to “act responsibly in taking all possible safety measures based on the Fukushima accident.”

The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry issued a certificate for the completion of the reactor’s regular inspection following the governor’s approval.

Earlier in the day, the prefectural government notified municipalities around the Tomari plant of the governor’s intention to approve the restart. The municipal authorities gave their consent to the governor’s decision.

The final test on reactor 3 ended Aug. 10, with the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, which is under the wing of the industry ministry, confirming that there are no problems with the reactor.

Nuclear reactors that are suspended for regular checkups need to undergo certain stress tests before restarting operations due to the crisis, but the government has said that the case of the Tomari reactor is not considered a “restart” because the reactor is already activated.