Fukui governor agrees to restart of 2 reactors

Fukui governor agrees to restart of 2 reactors

The governor of Fukui Prefecture in central Japan has given the nod to bringing 2 reactors at a local nuclear power plant back online.

Governor Issei Nishikawa announced his decision on the Ohi plant at a news conference on Monday.

The plant's operator, Kansai Electric Power Company, says it hopes to restart the No.3 reactor in mid-January and the No.4 reactor in mid-March.

The 2 reactors on the Sea of Japan have already cleared screening by Japan's nuclear regulator.

The host town of Ohi and the Fukui prefectural assembly have already given their consent.

Nishikawa said he agreed to the restart after thorough consideration, based on the views of the town and the assembly.

As a reason for his decision, he said a prefectural expert's panel has confirmed the engineering safety of the plant.

He also cited the operator's plan to choose candidate sites for the interim storage of spent nuclear fuel within next year. He added that the central government has pledged to be actively involved in the process.

Fukui has demanded that such facilities be built outside the prefecture.

Nishikawa's nod comes as a trial continues at a high court on a request by local residents not to restart the reactors. A lower court in 2014 ordered Kansai Electric not to restart them, citing insufficient safety measures.

Five reactors at 3 nuclear power plants have been brought back online in Japan under new government regulations introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Including the Ohi plant, 9 reactors at 5 plants have gained consent for restart by their local host governments.