The Oi, Fukui Prefecture nuclear power plant in western Japan, the first to be restarted since the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, has one of its reactors back to full operations as of Monday, says Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO), the plant’s operator. With Japan’s last nuclear plant going into suspension on May 5th, the Oi facility’s restart on July 1st also brought an end to the country’s two-month period with no electricity generated from nuclear power. KEPCO says it will start one more reactor at the Oi plant before this month is over.
A spokesman for KEPCO has said that the reactor returned to operation without any problems, and has remained stable since its output began. This announcement comes only days after an independent investigation ordered by the Japanese parliament reported its findings that the Fukushima disaster was essentially man-made, and could have been prevented. The primary cause was Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)’s deliberate ignoring of warnings, along with collusion between the central government and nuclear regulators. Yet, the same government, led by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, gave the order to restart the Oi power plant, despite nation-wide protests and a resistance to returning to the use of nuclear power.
All 50 of Japan’s nuclear reactors began going into suspension for safety checks and maintenance immediately after the crisis at Fukushima. Since then, the country’s utility companies have drastically increased their use of fossil fuels like oil and liquified natural gas. A fear of power shortages over the electricity-demanding summer months were the primary justification for the reactor’s restart, but the government has still called for citizens and businesses to conserve their electricity, and KEPCO has even warned they still may resort to rolling blackouts.