MATSUYAMA, EHIME PREF. – The municipal assembly in Ikata, a small town in Ehime Prefecture, approved on Tuesday the restart of the nuclear power plant there.
The assembly unanimously approved plans to fire up the No. 3 reactor at Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata plant.
If the company agrees and the reactor clears the rest of the required safety checks, it could come back online as early as next year. It obtained safety clearance from the Nuclear Regulation Authority in July.
Also Tuesday, the central government approved evacuation plans in the event of a severe accident at the Ikata plant, another step toward reactivating the plant.
Mayor Kazuhiko Yamashita indicated he would decide whether to agree to the restart after meeting with industry minister Yoichi Miyazawa on Wednesday or later.
A handful of protesters gathered outside the town office to declare their opposition to a restart.
The Abe administration has been pushing hard to restart idled reactors, citing the need for a stable power supply and lower electricity bills. Costs have soared since the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
In August, Kyushu Electric Power Co. restarted the No. 1 reactor at its Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, becoming the nation’s first utility to do so on a long-term basis since the Fukushima disaster. Kyushu Electric is set to reactivate the plant’s No. 2 reactor in mid-November.