Seems like Niigata Governor Hirohiko Izumida’s “on hold” timetable has only lasted a day as he granted Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) the permission to apply the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant for safety screening tests under the new standards by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. The utility is set to file the application on Friday for the inspection of reactors 6 and 7 of the nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture.
On Wednesday, TEPCO President Naomi Hirose personally sought permission from the Niigata governor as the NRA requires nuclear operators to seek the local governments’ approval prior to safety inspections. Izumida at first responded by saying he will “keep this issue on hold.” The prefectural governor, however, gave the green light to TEPCO on Thursday for the safety inspection application. “Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant may be halted but it is a living facility, and safety must be ensured at the plant,” said Izumida, who is also known for being outspoken against the nuclear reactors. TEPCO also manages the crippled nuclear plant in Fukushima, which is currently undergoing problematic clean-up and decommissioning operations.
Japan is currently without any online nuclear reactor as the last two allowed to operate have gone offline for inspections. The country is now dependent on imported gas as their main source of energy. As for the permission granted by Gov. Izumida, NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka has not yet given any comment. Should the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear reactors 6 and 7 pass the NRA safety screening tests, then the world’s largest nuclear plant will be back in operation. It is also considered that if operations resume in the plant, TEPCO can save $1 billion a month in providing power to the region given that all of the seven reactors will go online.
[ via Reuters ]