Japan’s Shimane Prefecture has approved a plan to restart unit 2 at Chugoku Electric Power Co.'s Shimane NPP in the prefectural capital of Matsue.
The company is seeking to restart the 820MWe boiling water reactor (BWR) in 2023 at the earliest. It has been offline since 2012, and will be the first BWR to be restarted since the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi NPP where three BWR units suffered a core meltdown. Following the earthquake and tsunami which caused the accident, Japan closed all 54 of its nuclear power units and introduced more stringent safety requirements for their restart. Of the 33 currently considered to be operable, 10 have so far been restarted, all pressurised water reactors.
In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a press conference the central government will ensure safety is prioritised.
The Shimane plant is the only one in Japan located in a prefectural capital. It is just nine kilometres from the prefectural government office.
In Japan, evacuation plans must be formulated for people living within 30 km of a nuclear plant. Some 460,000 people in six cities across Shimane and Tottori prefectures live within the evacuation area for the Shimane NPP. The other heads of local governments in the area have already approved the plan to restart the reactor.
Chugoku Electric cleared national safety standards in September 2021 for restarting the reactor. The utility is scheduled to complete its safety measures by February 2023 and could come back online later that year, although it still requires final regulatory approval.
Shimane Governor Tatsuya Maruyama told a plenary session of the prefectural assembly meeting: “If the reactor does not restart, the impact on the local economy will be huge,” adding that its restart is now “inevitable”. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference: “With the continuing rise in fuel prices and an energy supply bottleneck, it is necessary to utilize (nuclear power) to the maximum.”