SAGA--The mayor of Genkaicho, Saga Prefecture, gave his approval for restarting two reactors at the Genkai nuclear power plant in his town during talks with the industry minister Wednesday morning.
Genkaicho Mayor Hideo Kishimoto is the first municipal government head to give the green light for resuming operations at reactors halted since start of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Co. There are 35 such idled reactors nationwide.
However, Saga Gov. Yasushi Furukawa expressed reservations over restarting the Nos. 2 and 3 reactors at the Genkai plant when he met Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda Wednesday afternoon.
Kaieda first visited the Genkaicho town office at 10:15 a.m. and met for 15 minutes with Kishimoto, and other local leaders, including Toshiyuki Sakai, mayor of nearby Karatsu. Kaieda had come looking for agreement to resume operations of the two reactors at the plant run by Kyushu Electric Power Co.
During the meeting with Kaieda, Kishimoto said he approved of restarting the reactors.
"If the national government guarantees [safety at the plant], I'd like to convey my agreement to the utility before too long," the Genkaicho mayor said. Kyushu Electric would be officially informed of the mayor's decision in early July, town officials said.
That afternoon, Kaieda met the Saga governor to seek his understanding for putting the reactors back online, but the governor was more cautious than the small-town mayor. "I'll continue to make my decisions based on views of the prefectural assembly and the town hosting the reactors," Furukawa said.
This is the first time an economy, trade and industry minister has visited a municipality hosting a nuclear plant to seek approval for resuming stalled reactors.
Kaieda visited the Genkai nuclear power plant in the prefecture and inspected the emergency safeguards the plant has taken against earthquakes and tsunami before meeting with the town leaders.
"The national government is responsible for making a sustained effort to maintain safety," he told Kishimoto and Sakai. "It's a difficult call but I would like to have your understanding over resuming operations."
Kaieda later held talks for 30 minutes with Furukawa at the Saga prefectural government office. "Are nuclear plants really safe?" Furukawa asked Kaieda. "Who decided to stop the Hamaoka plant? That place was supposed to have been confirmed safe."
"The loss of power caused by the tsunami was the direct cause of the problems [at the Fukushima plant]," Kaieda said. "Sufficient safety measures have already been taken at the Genkai plant under government leadership."
Kyushu Electric normally supplies about 40 percent of its electricity through nuclear power, but three of its six reactors have been idled, including one at the Sendai nuclear plant in Satsuma-Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture. The two reactors at the Genkai plant were scheduled to resume operations in early April. The town assembly unanimously approved a statement June 17 calling for the reactors to be restarted.
Satsuma-Sendai mayor positive
SATSUMA-SENDAI, Kagoshima--Hideo Iwakiri, mayor of Satsuma-Sendai, said Wednesday for the first time he would approve resumption of operations of the No. 1 reactor at the Sendai nuclear power plant in the city if certain conditions were met.
"I think [the reactor] could be restarted if the operator observes the safety standards set by the national government," Iwakiri said.
(Jun. 30, 2011)