Three stories today seem to indicate that Japn is set on restarting some of the nation’s shut down nuclear power plants, and that the nuclear industry is prepared to put the Fukushima disaster behind them.
First, Japan’s new prime minister is pressing for the restart of some idled Japanese reactors, although he has not said which ones. As World Nuclear News reported today:
Japanese prime minister Yoshihiko Noda has promised that operations will restart at nuclear power plants currently undergoing safety inspections, but said the country must aim to reduce its reliance on nuclear in the longer term.
In his first policy speech at the opening of the 178th Diet, Noda focused on recovery and reconstruction activities after the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011. He highlighted bringing the nuclear accident at the Fukushima power plant to a conclusion as a national challenge, and promised steps to clean up dispersed radioactive materials and to provide ‘failsafe’ measures to manage the health of residents in the vicinity of the plant, with priority given to children and pregnant women.
The majority of Japanese reactors have been shut down post-Fukushima:
(Noda) promised that operations would restart at Japanese nuclear power stations that were shut down for regular safety inspections at the time of the Fukushima accident. Some 35 of Japan’s 54 nuclear units have been affected, being required to remain off line until given permission to restart. Any units subsequently entering such outages will also be required to remain off line until specifically permitted to restart.
Second, the man who served as the main government spokesman during the Fukushima meltdown, Yuki Edano, is now Japan’s Trade Minister, and is likewise committed to bringing the nukes back on line:
Japan’s new trade minister said he expects nuclear reactors idled for routine maintenance to restart once safety is confirmed and local communities give their approval, reflecting Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s view that nuclear power will play a continued role in the country’s energy mix.
Yukio Edano made no further comment on the likely timing for reactor restarts, which have been delayed by public concerns about nuclear safety in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi radiation crisis, threatening power shortages as more reactors go offline for inspections and maintenance.
And finally, the International Atomic Energy Commission believes that a couple of meltdowns will not put a permanent crimp in the Nuclear Renaissance:
The worldwide use of nuclear energy will continue to grow despite the Fukushima Daiichi accident, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, told a meeting of its Board of Governors. Non-proliferation concerns remain in some countries, he noted.
“We now expect the number of operating nuclear reactors in the world to increase by about 90 by 2030, in our low projection, or by around 350, in our high projection, compared to the current total of 432 reactors,” Amano told the board. “This represents continuous and significant growth in the use of nuclear power, but at a slower growth rate than in our previous projections.”