National

Kyushu Electric rejects Kagoshima governor's call to suspend reactors

Kyodo

Kyushu Electric Power Co. on Monday rejected a request by Kagoshima Gov. Satoshi Mitazono to immediately suspend operations of two reactors at its Sendai nuclear plant.

In a meeting at the prefectural government office, Kyushu Electric President Michiaki Uriu handed the governor a written response and sought to ally fears about the safety of the facility, noting the plant is scheduled for a regular inspection as early as next month.

Mitazono will scrutinize the paper before issuing a response.

Although governors have no legal power to shut down a nuclear reactor, Mitazono could still repeat his request via a statement if he finds the utility’s response unsatisfactory.

Kyushu Electric said it plans during the inspection to examine the reactor vessels and a facility for keeping spent nuclear fuel, as sought by the prefecture.

The company does not plan to hold a new probe into possible active faults near the plant, saying it has already thoroughly checked them and will explain the survey results to the governor.

In late August, Mitazono demanded that Kyushu Electric immediately suspend the plant’s No. 1 and No. 2 reactors to verify their safety, the first such move by a prefectural governor since the 2011 nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1plant.

Mitazono, who was elected in July on an anti-nuclear platform, cited growing local concerns about the plant’s safety after powerful earthquakes devastated nearby Kumamoto Prefecture and its vicinity in April.

The Sendai plant in September 2014 passed tougher safety standards that were introduced in the wake of the Fukushima crisis, leading to the restart of the two reactors in August and October last year, respectively.

The No. 1 reactor will be suspended from Oct. 6 while reactor 2 will be shut down from Dec. 16 for the regular checks, which are to take about two months.

Currently, the only reactors operating in Japan are the two Sendai units and one at Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture.