Japan ends N-shutdown after 2 years

Japan ends N-shutdown after 2 years

Japan on Tuesday ended a two-year nuclear shutdown in the energy-hungry country, sparked by public fears following the 2011 Fukushima crisis, the worst atomic disaster in a generation.

Utility Kyushu Electric Power turned on a reactor at Sendai, about 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) southwest of Tokyo, at 10:30 am (0130 GMT). The 31-year-old reactor-- operating under tougher post-Fukushima safety rules -- was expected to reach full capacity around 11:00 pm,  Tuesday, and would start generating power by Friday.

Commercial operations are to begin early next month, a company spokesman said.

The restart comes more than four years after a quake-sparked tsunami triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima plant, prompting the shutdown and setting off a pitched battle over the future use of atomic power. The accident sent radiation over a wide area and forced tens of thousands from their homes, many of whom are likely to never return.

Decommissioning of the crippled Fukushima reactors is expected to take decades with compensation expenses -- excluding the cost of the site’s clean up -- now topping $57 billion.

Minister for safety
“It is important to restart reactors one by one from the perspective of energy security, the economy and measures against global warming, but safety always comes first,” Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yoichi Miyazawa told reporters.

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