Japan to restart nuclear plant near Tokyo damaged in 2011 quake and tsunami

Japan to restart nuclear plant near Tokyo damaged in 2011 quake and tsunami
Japan’s nuclear regulator has permitted the Tokai No. 2 nuclear power plant to restart. It has been idle since being damaged by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Located in the Ibaraki Prefecture about 70km northeast from Tokyo and named after a nearby village, the Tokai plant was among the first to be hit by the quake, sending it into an emergency shutdown. The subsequent tsunami damaged the site further, but not as seriously as the Fukishima plant meaning it was able to properly cool the reactor.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority said on Wednesday that it cleared the Tokai No. 2 plant for operations, the Japan Times reported. It has to pass further screening in November, when it reaches the age of 40, and may face decommissioning if the NRA (Nuclear Regulation Authority) decides not to extend its lifetime beyond the regulatory 4-decade limit. The newspaper says if the plant does go back online, it would likely not happen before March 2021.

The design of the plant’s 1.1-million-kilowatt nuclear reactor is the same as the Fukushima No. 1 plant. It is one of the 15 reactors, from a total of eight plants, to get NRA approval for renewed operation after the Japanese government adopted stricter rules for the industry in the wake of the Fukushima meltdown.

The Japan Atomic Power Co. is the plant’s operator. None of its sites have been operational since the disaster, which put into question whether it would have the financial resources to implement a $1.63 billion investment plan to boost its safety, Japan News reported. The company said Tepco and Tohoku Electric Power Co., with which it was in partnership to distribute the generated power, offered to support the project.

Located in relatively densely populated area, the Tokai No. 2 plant’s evacuation plan is the largest in terms of potential evacuees. Up to 960,000 people may be called to leave their homes and flee the 30km area around the site in the worst-case scenario.

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