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Kyushu Electric Power’s Sendai nuclear power plant is seen in Satsumasendai, Kagoshima prefecture April 3, 2014. (Reuters/Mari Saito)

Japan’s nuclear regulator gave the go-ahead to reopen some of the nation’s nuclear reactors, after nearly a year without nuclear energy. The restart of the industry will also result in the permanent closure of older plants.

The watchdog’s decision-making panel approved the final version of the screening report, which included public feedback. On August 19 the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) said that it received some 17,000 comments from the public on the draft version of the document.

The Kagoshima Prefecture plant will become the first to meet new safety regulations, which were introduced following the Fukushima power plant disaster of 2011. Presently, all of the country’s 48 reactors are offline, prevented from reopening because of safety concerns. The safety hurdles associated with old reactors are also more demanding than with newer power stations.

In fact, as many as two-thirds of the reactors may never open again, according to a Reuters analysis. And the government is pressing the NRA to take a tough stance with the new framework, set out in July of last year.

Although older reactors can get a 20-year extension of life, this will now accompany a very rigorous screening process. Reactors older than 40 years pretty much all face decommissioning.

While the NRA gave the green light, the upcoming Wednesday reopening of the two-reactor Sendai plant in southwestern Japan still needs the approval of the local government and experts say the actual start of operation may not happen until December, as the plant’s operator, Kyushu Electric, must still wade through a lot of paperwork to comply with the NRA’s regulations.

Read more at RT News

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