Japan town approves reactor restart

Japan town approves reactor restart

The local assembly in a Japanese town that hosts a nuclear plant agreed on Monday it was necessary to restart two off-line reactors, its chairman said, the first such nod since all the country’s stations were halted after the Fukushima crisis.

But further discussion lies ahead before reactors No 3 and No 4 at Kansai Electric Power Co’s Ohi plant in western Japan can be reconnected to the grid.

With power shortages looming in the region when demand peaks this summer, the central government has been trying to win approval from towns and prefectures that host reactors.

All 50 reactors are off-line since the last one shut down for maintenance on May 5.

Businesses and consumers in Kansai region, served by Kansai Electric Power Co, could be asked to cut electricity use by 20 per cent this summer compared to 2010 levels, according to a government draft document released on Monday.

The government will consider whether to issue a mandatory power cut order for corporate users in Kansai, which includes the vast Osaka metropolitan area, or impose rolling blackouts in several regions, the document also showed.

Mandatory restrictions were imposed in some regions last year after the Fukushima crisis, the worst since the 1986 Chernobyl explosion, with three reactors suffering meltdowns after the plant was hit by a huge earthquake and tsunami.

Kansai Electric’s service region, which relied on nuclear power for more than 40 per cent of its generation before the Fukushima crisis, may see a 14.9 per cent shortage in August, a government panel concluded on Saturday. But if four other utilities can cooperate on power conservation, it may help make up for shortfalls in Kansai and reduce its power saving goal to 15 per cent.

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