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Fukushima operator wins first safety approval since disaster

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    Agence France-Presse

Tokyo, Japan | Wed, December 27, 2017 | 12:56 pm
 Fukushima operator wins first safety approval since disaster A general view shows the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (rear) seen from Tomioka town in Fukushima prefecture on March 11, 2016, as people gather to remember the victims of the massive earthquake and tsunami disaster which hit northeastern Japan in 2011. Japan is marking on March 11 the fifth anniversary of the 2011 quake and tsunami that claimed some 18,500 lives, flattened coastal communities and set off the worst atomic crisis in a generation. (Agence France -Presse/Jui Press)

Japan's nuclear watchdog Wednesday gave a formal green light to the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to restart two reactors, the first since the 2011 atomic crisis.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority handed its approval to the Tokyo Electric Power Co. following a month of public hearings, judging that the two reactors met the stricter safety standards introduced after the disaster, an NRA official told AFP.

The two reactors are situated at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, one of the world's biggest and the largest in Japan.

Like many other nuclear power plants in the country, the plant in central Japan has been idle since the 2011 meltdown triggered by a tsunami after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake.

The tsunami overwhelmed reactor cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in northeastern Japan, causing meltdowns and releasing radiation in the most dangerous nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

TEPCO still needs to get local consent to bring the reactors online, which could take years.

Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama, who won the local election in 2016 for a four-year term, is known to be cautious about restarting Kashiwazaki-Kariwa.

"We will continue explaining to residents" to address their concerns, TEPCO spokesman Shinichi Nakakuki told AFP.

The company "ultimately" hopes to win approval from local authorities, Nakakuki added.

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