Governor of Japan's Northernmost Hokkaido region, Harumi Takahashi has
approved the first reopening of commercial operations at an atomic reactor
since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan. With this official
go-ahead, Tomari nuclear power plant's reactor number three, resumed full
commercial operations at 3:00am ET.
Close to 75 per cent of Japan's 54 reactors are presently off line for
safety checks since the Fukushima power plant was badly damaged in the
earthquake and tsunami, triggering the on-going nuclear crisis.
A wave of anti-nuclear sentiment has been gathering pace across many
communities; mainly those with nuclear power plants, resulting in local
authorities increasingly oppose a resumption of operations.
Prior to March 11, atomic plants produced around a third of Japan's domestic
energy needs, prompting some business leaders to warn of the damaging impact
of power shortages to production in the world's third largest economy.
Naoto Kan, the prime minister, has outlined his vision for phasing out
nuclear power in the long term; but, summer electricity shortages are
placing growing pressure on the government to resume reactor operations.
Harumi Takahashi, the governor of Hokkaido, confirmed this week that she had
"no objection" to the government declaring completion of the Tomari plant's
safety checks and returning to full operations.
The plant, operated by Hokkaido Electric Power Co, was officially in a
testing phase at the time of the March 11 earthquake and its resumption of
full operations was delayed as a result of the disaster.
Meanwhile, the tsunami advisory imposed after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake
struck Japan's northeast coast served recently as a reminder that the
country is still prone to strong aftershocks.
Although the warning was quickly lifted, it refocused attention on the
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which is still releasing radiation
more than five months after it was wrecked by an earthquake and tsunami.
As almost 3,000 workers continue their battle to bring the plant under
control, optimism about their progress is tempered by concern about the
long-term consequences of the world's worst nuclear accident since