Japan’s obsession with restarting Ohi reactors lacks “scientific basis”

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The explosions that destroyed the reactor buildings at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant renewed concerns for the safety of the nuclear industry that were echoed by governments around the world.  The Japanese government is anxious to restart two Ohi reactors in Fukui, despite not addressing the exposed nuclear-safety flaws after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

Behind the Ohi restarts in Japan is the central government’s pressure and lobbying by Kepco and the Kansai Economic Federation, headed by Kepco Chairman Shosuke Mori.  It even appears that the government intentionally worked out looser standards so that utilities can meet them in order to hasten the reactivation of Ohi nuclear plant’s idled reactors.

The government should be criticized for having moved too hastily and in a sloppy manner when it set new standards for deciding whether to reactivate nuclear reactors, even though the criteria are crucial in ensuring the safety of the public.  If the central government decides to restart the Ohi reactors, it will be a decision made in the absence of a solid foundation to ensure the safety of nuclear power generation.

The government claims that the new safety standards, which were drafted in a mere 48 hours to address residents’ worries, are based on knowledge and lessons learned from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but it is hardly convincing.

The government has not yet got to the bottom of the accident, and the standards appear to contain nothing new, and in fact, closely resembled a proposal by Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA).

Kansai Electric Power Co. submitted its safety plans in response to the government request for two reactors, adding that the full upgrades would take years to complete.

In other words, the new standards were worked out by only putting together emergency safety measures and the results of safety assessments that power suppliers have already implemented, giving the utility firms an excuse for putting off time-consuming safety measures.

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