Amid Protests, Sendai Nuclear Power Plant Reactor No. 2 Comes on Line
Will the 'stricter regulations' serve as protection?
Just days after 1,800 people from around Kyushu gathered to protest the planned restart of another reactor at the Sendai nuclear plant, the second reactor has been brought online. The Sendai Nuclear Power Plant is the only one working in Japan since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. 
There are currently 20 reactors at 13 Japanese nuclear power plants undergoing audits to confirm that their safety standards are in compliance with new regulations adopted since the Fukushima meltdown. The new regulations are significantly stricter than those that existed prior to the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that crashed into Fukushima and make provisions for the highest level of earthquake and tsunami risk. Nuclear power plants in Japan must now have several backup power sources available, as well as other comprehensive emergency measures. 
Opinion polls have consistently shown that residents were against bringing the second Sendai reactor online. On October 12, nearly 2,000 people protested the restart, waving placards reading “Nuclear plant, no more” and shouting slogans. The plant’s No. 1 reactor was brought back on line in August. 
Protesters called the decision to bring No. 2 online a “suicidal” decision, as a steam generator in the reactor building has not been replaced with a more durable one. Kyushu Electric Power Co. had said it would replace the generator in 2009.
“To change Kyushu Electric’s attitude toward nuclear energy, we must purposefully refuse to buy electricity from the company once the electricity distribution becomes deregulated,” said Wataru Ogawa, a member of an anti-nuclear citizens group in neighboring Miyazaki Prefecture.
Sendai’s No. 2 reactor came online Thursday. About 100 protestors showed up to register their displeasure. The reactor is scheduled to be fully operational and producing power by October 21. 
“We restart the reactors, respecting the decisions approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority as meeting the world’s most stringent and newest regulations,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a regularly-scheduled press conference.
Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) is also considering bringing Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata nuclear power plant online, as well as the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors of Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture. The No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai nuclear power plant in Kyushu’s Sage Prefecture are also expected to eventually come on line.
 CNN (Featured image source)
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.