Nuclear plant in Onagawa. (Image via Asahi)

Nuclear reactor in Onagawa ready to restart

On Wednesday, the local officials of the Miyagi Prefecture consented a nuclear reactor in Onagawa to restart, which was damaged by the 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster. After clearing a national safety screening test in February 2020, the No, 2 Unit of the Onagawa nuclear plant is awaiting the governor's approval.

An anonymous source stated that the Governor of Miyagi Prefecture, Yoshihiro Murai, would announce the consent formally by the end of 2020. If so, Murai will be the first governor of a disaster-hit prefecture to allow the restart of the nuclear reactor. Murai was optimistic that his people would agree because the prefectural assembly adopted a plea seeking Murai's approval at Tuesday's panel meeting and is set to approve the restart at a plenary session next week.

The 825,000KW reactor got the approval of the Nuclear Regulation Authority in February 2020, and the second tsunami-hit reactor to pass through the stricter safety standards. At the Onagawa plant, the three reactors were shut down when the quake-tsunami hit in March 2011.

Moreover, Japan also is waiting for consents from the mayors of the Ishinomaki city and Onagawa town, whose plant being operated by Tohoku Electric Power Co. Mayor of Ishinomaki, Hiroshi Kameyama, already showed his willingness.

After the 2011 quake disrupted one of the world's worst nuclear crises in the Fukushima Prefecture (since the 1986 Chernobyl incident) and caused 54 reactors to halt, nine units at five plants had restarted following regulatory and local approval. Tohoku aims to restart the Onegawa No. 2 reactor in 2022, after completing mitigation measures such as an 800m-long seawall. But, Tohoku decided to scrap the No. 1.