MATSUYAMA, EHIME PREF. – The Ehime Prefectural Assembly consented Friday to a plan to restart a nuclear power plant despite lingering safety concerns from the 2011 Fukushima core meltdowns.
The acceptance of a petition for reactivating the No. 3 reactor at Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata plant and the adoption of a resolution stating that is necessary brought the plant a step closer to becoming the country’s second nuclear facility to restart under stricter safety regulations. The first was Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai complex.
The move came after the assembly of the town of Ikata approved earlier this week a request for restarting the plant, which was cleared by the Nuclear Regulation Authority in July.
Ikata Mayor Kazuhiko Yamashita is set to meet with new industry minister Motoo Hayashi before conveying his support for the restart to Ehime Gov. Tokihiro Nakamura.
Nakamura is expected to separately meet with Hayashi and make the final decision. Even if the governor consents, the plant may not be reactivated until next year, as further checkups will be required.
About 100 demonstrators gathered in front of the Ehime prefectural office in Matsuyama to protest the reactivation even before the assembly session began.
The government seeks to restart idled nuclear reactors around the country that meet what it claims are “the world’s toughest safety standards,” citing the necessity of a stable power supply and lower electricity bills that have surged since the Fukushima disaster.
Kyushu Electric restarted the No. 1 reactor at the Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture in August, becoming the nation’s first utility to do so under the stricter safety regulations introduced since the Fukushima crisis began.
Kyushu Electric is also set to reactivate the plant’s No. 2 reactor as early as next week.