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Thursday, 9 July 2015

Local reaction mixed to fuel loading, imminent restart at Sendai nuclear plant

SATSUMASENDAI, Kagoshima -- Kyushu Electric Power Co. started work to load nuclear fuel into the No. 1 reactor at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant on July 7, sparking mixed reactions among local residents.
If the reactor restart at the Sendai plant goes ahead as planned, it will be the first such reactivation under stricter safety requirements adopted after the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant meltdowns in March 2011.
About 120 people including local residents gathered in front of the main gate of the Sendai nuclear power complex on the morning of July 7. Holding banners which read, "Loading of nuclear fuel is a step toward accidents," they shouted, "We will never condone reactivation," and, "Kyushu Electric should abandon nuclear reactors."
Kiyoaki Kawabata, 59, who heads a local self-governing body in the Kagoshima Prefecture city of Satsumasendai, was angry that Kyushu Electric had moved ahead with fuel loading without holding a briefing session for local residents.
"Even though residents have been seeking an explanation, they ignored us. We cannot forgive them for that," he said. Hiroshi Sugihara, a 67-year-old part-time lecturer at Kagoshima University, commented, "They should stop work and abandon their (reactor) restart plans."
Seven people from Minamata, Kagoshima Prefecture, about 45 kilometers from the Sendai nuclear station, joined the rally. Takafumi Nagano, the 60-year-old head of a group calling for sound nuclear evacuation plans, said, "We must not allow for the beginning of a new nuclear era." In the 1970s, Nagano lived in what was then Sendai city and joined a campaign opposing construction of the Sendai plant.
Hiroyoshi Yamamoto, who heads a pro-nuclear group in Satsumasendai and the Sendai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, "Although the local economy remains in bad shape, I hope that, with the fuel loading, the imminent nuclear plant restart will activate the local economy and stabilize business performance."
Kagoshima Gov. Yuichiro Ito said in a statement, "Because inspections will continue to be carried out before the nuclear plant is put back on line, I would ask Kyushu Electric to continue to place top priority on ensuring safety and take all appropriate measures."
About 200 people opposed to the Sendai restart gathered in front of Kyushu Electric's branch office in the Yurakucho district of Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on the evening of July 7. The rally was organized by the "Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes."
Holding banners, some of which said: "Don't put in nuclear fuel!" and, "Don't press the start button," the demonstrators chanted slogans including "People can't evacuate!" for about 90 minutes. Protester Yoshimitsu Umezawa, a 62-year-old caregiver from the Tokyo city of Machida, said, "We can't forgive a reactivation which puts priority on the economy and ignores people's lives."
Source: Mainichi
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