via NY Times / June 3rd, 2013 / The operator of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant said Tuesday that it would ask regulators to allow it to restart two reactors at a separate site in eastern Japan, even as problems with the company’s cleanup in Fukushima continue to multiply.
The request by the operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, is expected to be among a flurry of such appeals from utilities seeking to restart reactors now that the government has approved tougher safety guidelines. The government hopes the regulations will help it overcome deep public concerns about nuclear power and government oversight, allowing it to get additional plants back online more than two years after the Fukushima crisis.
The requests are expected to revive a debate in Japan about the future of nuclear power that has been relatively quiet for months as regulators have worked on the new rules. Since the disaster at the Fukushima plant in 2011, only two reactors have been allowed to resume operations in an effort to head off electricity shortages, but the government and supporters of nuclear power say it is critical to the economy that Japan return to relatively cheap nuclear power rather than relying on costly natural gas and coal imports.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company, said it would soon apply to restart two of the seven reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant (pictured), the world’s biggest nuclear power station by capacity. That plant, about 140 miles northeast of Tokyo, was not affected by the earthquake and tsunami that wreaked havoc at Fukushima Daiichi, but Kashiwazaki-Kariwa does sit atop fault lines and was damaged in a 2007 quake caused by another fault.