Unit 3 of Shikoku Electric Power Co's Ikata nuclear power plant in Japan's Ehime Prefecture has become the fifth reactor at the third plant to obtain approval from the Nuclear Regulation Authority for restart since the Fukushima triple meltdown.
Shikoku Electric hopes to have the reactor back online by winter but must first complete a number of further measures and obtain local consent. There are local concerns about how viable evacuation plans would be and Shikoku Electric officials said they plan to visit residents near the plant to convince them to allow the plant to go ahead.
Evacuation plans have to be drawn up for the nearly 123,000 people who live in seven Ehime towns and villages as well as the town of Kaminoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture who live within 30km of Ikata. But a survey by Shikoku Electric last month showed that the municipalities are worried about massive traffic jams in the event of an accident that would make quick evacuation impossible, or that hospital patients and those in elderly care facilities could not be evacuated easily.
Shikoku Electric predicts electricity sales from a restart of the 890MWe reactor will improve earnings by around JPY5bn ($40m) per month.
The other reactors cleared by the NRA for restart are Kyushu Electric's Sendai 1&2 in Kagoshima Prefecture, which could go back online as early as next month, and Kepco's Takahama 3&4 reactors in Fukui Prefecture, whose restart is now in doubt following a temporary injunction issued by the Fukui District Court in April. Kepco has appealed the ruling.