Japan's Kyushu Elec Rebuffs Governor's Call to Halt Nuke Plant

By Reuters
September 05,2016
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Kyushu Electric Power's Sendai nuclear power station is seen in Satsumasendai, Kagoshima prefecture, Japan, August 8, 2015. REUTERS/Issei Kato/Files

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese utility Kyushu Electric Power on Monday rebuffed a call by a local governor to temporarily close its Sendai nuclear plant, saying it would address any new safety concerns in a special inspection to be launched from next month.

Anti-nuclear advocate Satoshi Mitazono, who was elected governor of Kagoshima prefecture in July, late last month called on Kyushu Electric to shut the plant immediately and re-examine its safety following a series of strong quakes that struck neighbouring Kumamoto in April.

However, Kyushu Electric noted on Monday that the No.1 and No.2 reactors at Sendai nuclear plant are scheduled to be shut for planned maintenance from Oct. 6 and Dec. 16, respectively.

The company said it planned new measures to re-inspect the safety of the plant at that time to ease any local concerns following the Kumamoto quakes.

Mitazono has no legal power to shut down operating reactors, but his consent will be required to restart Sendai after the reactors are stopped for scheduled maintenance.

Only three reactors are currently online in Japan: two at the Sendai plant and one at Shikoku Electric Power's Ikata station. All nuclear plants were closed following the Fukushima disaster in 2011 and utilities have struggled to get running again in the face of a sceptical public.

Reactors in Japan are required to be shut for maintenance after 13 months of commercial operation.

(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Richard Pullin)