Fukui Governor approves restarts of aging reactors

The governor of Fukui Prefecture in central Japan, Sugimoto Tatsuji, has approved the restarts of three nuclear reactors on the Sea of Japan coast that are more than 40 years old.

In the wake of the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the operation of reactors is limited by law to 40 years in principle. But the old reactors could still be allowed to operate for up to 60 years, if they've passed a screening by the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

The No.1 and No.2 reactors at the Takahama nuclear plant and the No.3 reactor at the Mihama plant have cleared the screening.

Earlier this year, the two municipalities hosting the plants approved the restarting of the reactors. The Fukui prefectural assembly followed suit.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Governor Sugimoto said the prefecture made its own safety assessment on top of confirming the stances of the central government and Kansai Electric Power Company, which runs the plants. He said he can give a certain degree of positive assessment to the proposal from the viewpoints of the safety confirmation of the reactors, as well as consent and understanding of the hosting communities.

Kansai Electric plans to put any one of the three reactors back online as soon as it is ready.

If restarted, the reactor will be the first to be operated beyond 40 years since limits were placed on the operational life of nuclear reactors.