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Anti-nuclear Kagoshima governor asks Kyushu Electric to halt Sendai reactors

Kyodo

The newly elected governor of Kagoshima Prefecture requested Friday that Kyushu Electric Power Co. temporarily suspend the operations of two reactors at its contentious Sendai nuclear plant.

Gov. Satoshi Mitazono, elected on an anti-nuclear platform last month, asked the utility to halt the plant’s Nos. 1 and 2 reactors — two of only three currently operating in the country — during a meeting with Kyushu Electric President Michiaki Uriu at a prefectural government office earlier in the day.

A former TV commentator, Mitazono has said he will urge the utility to re-examine safety measures for the two-reactors at the Satsumasendai complex. The governor said concerns among local residents have surged over the potential for a catastrophic accident after a series of massive earthquakes rocked nearby prefectures in April.

Kyushu Electric is expected to respond to the request by early next month.

Governors have no legal power to suspend operations at nuclear plants.

Regardless of the request, the two reactors at the seaside plant are scheduled to be taken offline for regular safety and maintenance checks on Oct. 6 and Dec. 16, respectively.

Before the governor’s move, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference in Tokyo that there is no change in the government’s policy that nuclear reactors be reactivated only if they clear post-Fukushima safety standards, while also obtaining the “understanding” of locals.

The top government spokesman said that while he did not know the specifics of the governor’s request, the central government intends to deal with the matter “appropriately” by keeping open lines of communication with the prefectural government.