March 2, 2024
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ELECTRICITY RENEWABLE ENERGY

Japan Lifts Operational Ban on World’s Biggest Nuclear Plant

Japan’s nuclear power regulator, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), has lifted the operational ban imposed on Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (Tepco) Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant on Wednesday, Reuters reports.

The ban was implemented in 2021 due to safety breaches, including failure to protect nuclear materials and unauthorized access to sensitive areas. Tepco has been eager to restart the world’s largest atomic power plant, which has been offline since 2012 after the Fukushima disaster.

Citing improvements in the safety management system, the NRA on Wednesday lifted a corrective action order that had prevented Tepco from transporting new uranium fuel to the plant or loading fuel rods into its reactors – effectively blocking a resumption.

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant has a capacity of 8,212 megawatts (MW) and has been a focal point for Tepco’s efforts to reduce operating costs. However, local consent for restarting the plant remains uncertain.

“The government will seek the understanding and cooperation of Niigata prefecture and local communities, emphasising ‘safety-first’,” Yoshimasa Hayashi, the government’s top spokesperson, said.

The NRA’s decision to lift the corrective action order allows Tepco to work towards regaining local trust and support.

The resumption of the plant would contribute to Japan’s efforts to bring more nuclear power plants online, reducing reliance on imported fossil fuels.

Japan has been keen on restarting nuclear reactors to enhance its energy security and reduce dependence on imported liquefied natural gas (LNG). The move is part of the country’s broader energy strategy, which includes a mix of nuclear power, renewables, and energy efficiency measures.

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