KAGOSHIMA – Kagoshima Gov. Satoshi Mitazono suggested Friday he may give up on his pursuit to have Kyushu Electric Power Co. immediately suspend the operation of two reactors at its nuclear power plant in the southwestern prefecture after the utility’s president again rejected the request.
“Thinking realistically, time is short before (the reactors will go through) regular checkups,” Mitazono said when asked by reporters whether he will ask the utility again to immediately halt the operation of the reactors.
A roughly two-month-long regular checkup is scheduled to begin for the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors at the Sendai plant from Oct. 6 and from Dec. 16, respectively, during which the plant’s operation will be suspended.
Mitazono’s remarks came after he received a written rejection from Kyushu Electric President Michiaki Uriu, who instead promised additional safety measures.
“I’ve been calling for the early suspension. It’s regrettable,” Mitazono, elected on an anti-nuclear platform in July, told Uriu in a meeting at the Kagoshima Prefectural Government office building.
Kyushu Electric said in writing that its rejection reflected the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s view that there was no need to suspend operations of the two-reactor complex in Satsumasendai.
The utility presented a plan to conduct special checkups prior to the scheduled start of regular checks, prepare additional vehicles to help evacuate residents living within 30 kilometers of the nuclear complex in case of a nuclear accident and help remove fallen trees and other objects on evacuation roads when they are blocked after earthquakes and other disasters.
As for the enhanced safety steps, Mitazono said his calls for the reactors’ immediate suspension have contributed to advancing the complex’s safety “a few steps forward.”
Mitazono has been calling for the immediate suspension of the two reactors at the Sendai complex, citing local worries about the plant’s safety after major earthquakes rocked neighboring Kumamoto Prefecture and its vicinity in April.
Currently, the two Sendai reactors and one reactor at Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture are operating in Japan after passing tougher safety checks introduced in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis triggered by a powerful earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
Prefectural governors have no legal power to suspend the operation of reactors.