TOKYO – Two reactors run by the operator of the Fukushima nuclear power plant received the approval from the Japanese nuclear authority for the first time since the 2011 nuclear disaster.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) approved the safety measures for reactors No. 6 and 7 at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power station in central Niigata prefecture, located in Japan’s west coast and managed by Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), according to the Japanese regulator.
The two Kashiwazaki-Kariwa reactors are the boiling water reactors like the ones in Fukushima that were damaged by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that swept northeast Japan on March 11, 2011, triggering the worst nuclear accident after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
None of the existing reactors of the type in Japan had, until now, cleared NRA’s tougher safety standards since the Fukushima disaster, as they are required to conduct major refurbishment for added safety.
Despite the NRA’s approval, restarting the two reactors could take several years, as the local authorities consent is required for the resumption.
Reactors No. 6 and 7 are the latest units at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, one of the world’s largest nuclear power plants with a combined output capacity of 8.2 million kilowatts.
The NRA’s endorsement of the Tepco units is seen as a push to the Shinzo Abe government to restart idled nuclear power plants, despite opposition from the majority of the Japanese population and the local authorities.
Only three of Japan’s 42 nuclear reactors are currently operational following a court order to suspend the operation of reactor 3 in Ikata nuclear power station this month citing security concerns.