For the second time since the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in 2011, Japan is facing the shutdown of the country’s remaining two reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant. Maintenance and tougher safety checks from the Nuclear Regulation Authority are cited as reasons for the imminent shutdown.
It will also be impossible to restart the idle reactors that have been shutdown since March 2011 in time to replace these two reactors before September 2013. Most of them are still being investigated for seismic issues. The NRA also has not released the final safety standards which are necessary for local government approvals for the restarts. While anti-nuclear groups will be happy about this development, no nuclear plants will mean more expensive importation of fossil fuels for power generation. Japan is already the top importer of liquified natural gas (LNG) and the volume grew from 11.2 percent to a record 87.31 million metric tons in 2012. This accounts for one-third of the global trade of 240 million metric tons in LNG in 2011. Crude oil and thermal coal imports have also risen in the past year. This led to a huge energy bill for the government which is one of the major reasons for Japan to have a record trade deficit in 2012.
Media surveys show that majority of the Japanese people want to abandon atomic energy by 2030. This anti-nuclear sentiment was sparked by the previous Democratic Party of Japan’s decision to restart Kansai Electric Power’s Oi plant’s two nuclear plants last June. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party will have an even harder time if they do decide to restart some of the reactors later this year.[ via Yahoo News ]