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Japan authorizes the restart of the world’s largest nuclear power plant – DW – 12/27/2023

Japan’s nuclear regulator announced on Wednesday the lifting of its safety ban on Tokyo Electric Power’s (TEPCO) Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, the world’s largest in terms of capacity.

TEPCO was looking to restart the plant due to high operating costs. He must now seek permission from local authorities in Niigata Prefecture, Kashiwazaki City and Kariwa Village.

Why was the ban imposed?

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant has a capacity of 8,212 megawatts (MW) and was TEPCO’s only operational nuclear power plant. It has been offline since 2012, after the Fukushima disaster in March 2011 which led to the closure of all of Japan’s nuclear power plants.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) said TEPCO’s preparedness had improved and decided to lift the de facto ban. The organization has completed more than 4,000 hours of inspections of its facilities.

Previously, in 2021, the NRA banned the plant from operating due to security lapses and insufficient anti-terrorism measures. This included a failure to protect nuclear materials and an incident involving unauthorized personnel accessing sensitive areas of the plant.

He then issued an order prohibiting TEPCO from transporting new uranium fuel to the plant or loading fuel rods into its reactors.

“The government will seek understanding and cooperation from Niigata Prefecture and local communities, emphasizing ‘safety first,'” said Yoshimasa Hayashi, the government’s top spokesman.

Following this decision, TEPCO said it would continue to work to earn the trust of the local community and society at large. On Tuesday, a Tokyo court ruled that TEPCO, the sole operator of the Fukushima nuclear power plant destroyed by the tsunami, must pay damages to dozens of evacuees.

Japan is trying to reactivate all domestic nuclear power plants that comply with the safety net, to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels that must be imported. But in some cases, there is opposition from residents or other regulatory agencies.

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tg/rc (EFE, Reuters)

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