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NRA begins checks on Ikata No. 3 reactor

The Japan Times

If the checks go smoothly, Shikoku Electric plans to load nuclear fuel into the reactor in late June ahead of its reboot in late July. Under new nuclear safety standards, introduced after the March 2011 nuclear catastrophe at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 plant, the Ikata No. 3 reactor is the fifth to go through the NRA's inspections before being allowed to restart. The four others are the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, and the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture. According to Shikoku Electric, there are 50 items on the checklist for the Ikata No. 3 reactor, including confirming whether safety instruments work properly. The inspections, including final checks, will last about 4½ months and include examining how the utility would respond to possible accidents.

Strong quake hurts 45 in south Japan; traps people in houses

Associated Press

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at least 19 houses collapsed, and hundreds of calls came in reporting building damage and people buried under debris or trapped inside. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said the damage and calls for help are concentrated in the town of Mashiki, 15 kilometers (9 miles) east of Kumamoto city and about 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) southwest of Tokyo. The epicenter was 120 kilometers (74 miles) northeast of Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s Sendai nuclear plant, the only one operating in the country. Keisukei Urata, an official in nearby Uki city who was driving home when the quake struck, told NHK that parts of the ceiling at Uki City Hall collapsed, windows broke and cabinets fell to the ground.

NRA safety license for Sendai reactors legal, Fukuoka court finds, dismissing volcano risk lawsuit

The Japan Times

FUKUOKA - A district court said on Monday it found nothing illegal with a safety clearance granted to two reactors in Kyushu that were restarted after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis, dismissing a demand for a retraction filed by plaintiffs who said it ignored the risk of volcanic eruptions. The lawsuit was filed by 33 plaintiffs against a license authorizing design changes at reactors 1 and 2 at the Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture under tougher post-Fukushima safety regulations. They were the first commercial reactors in the nation to be restarted after the crisis. The plaintiffs argued the Nuclear Regulation Authority gave the green light without sufficiently assessing the potential risk of eruptions at nearby Mount Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture and four other volcanoes. In the first ruling of its kind, the Fukuoka District Court concluded the license issued was not illegal.

Kyushu Electric eyes restarting Genkai nuclear reactors next year

The Japan Times

FUKUOKA – Kyushu Electric Power Co. is planning to restart two nuclear reactors at its Genkai power plant in Saga Prefecture next year, the utility's president said Tuesday. The Nos. 3 and 4 reactors are tentatively scheduled for January and March restarts, respectively, and would bring the number of the utilities' reactors back online to four, following the Nos. 1 and 2 units at the Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture. "The timing (for the restart) has not been finalized yet but we will strive for the smooth progress (toward the target period)," President Michiaki Uryu told a news conference in Fukuoka. In April, Saga Gov. Yoshinori Yamaguchi gave the green light for the Genkai reactors -- which have passed the tougher safety requirements introduced after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 -- to be brought back online after the host town gave its consent and the prefectural assembly adopted a resolution approving the restart.

Another reactor at Genkai plant in Saga heads for restart in late May

The Japan Times

FUKUOKA – The operator of the Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture plans to restart another reactor at the complex in late May, according to a plan recently submitted to the government. The rebooting of the No. 4 unit after a six-year hiatus will complete Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s plan to bring four of its reactors online after stricter safety screenings were imposed in light of the Fukushima disaster. According to the plan submitted to the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the utility will restart the reactor on May 24 if all goes smoothly, with commercial operation slated to resume in late June. Kyushu Electric restarted the plant's No. 3 unit in March, while two reactors at its Sendai complex in Kagoshima Prefecture were restarted in 2015. Some residents opposed to the Genkai plant's operations have questioned the validity of the safety standards and cited the risk of volcanic eruptions in the region.