Greenpeace Criticizes Japan's ``Rushed Approval`` of Oi Nuclear Reactor

Monday, May 14, 2012

Tokyo- (PanOrient News) Greenpeace Japan today criticized the Oi local council's decision to restart the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, and called on the Japanese government to offer "safe alternatives" instead.

Greenpeace Campaign Manager Wakao Hanaoka said in a statement, "The Oi local council's decision to allow the rushed restart of the Oi nuclear power plant ignores the voice of its people, goes against expert advice, and shows that industry interests are still being favoured over the health and safety of communities".

"The national Government’s reckless push to restart reactors rather than offer alternative choices in the form of safe, sustainable energy solutions has left many communities thinking they have to choose between risks to their health and safety, and risks to their jobs and prosperity. Japan is surviving without nuclear power, and can continue to do so with proper energy demand management and leadership from the Government," the Greenpeace statement added.

The assembly of Oi town, Fukui Prefecture decided Monday to support the restart of two idled reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Oi nuclear power plant. The assembly reportedly said it made the decision in consideration of the damage to the local economy and employment that a prolonged halt of the reactors could bring.

"Switching off plants has not destroyed jobs or local economies in the short term, and as Greenpeace’s Energy [R]evolution report shows, leaving them off in favour of a rapid switch to renewable energy will create far more jobs and economic activity in the longer term. Oi Mayor Masaharu Tokioka must stand up to this threat to his people and not allow this restart to happen," Greenpeace said.

The assembly plans to convey its view to town Mayor Shinobu Tokioka later in the day and the mayor will make a decision on whether to approve the reactors' restart after taking into account the assembly's decision as well as the results of an appraisal by the western Japan prefecture's nuclear safety commission and other matters. The mayor's decision will then be conveyed to Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa, Japanese media said.

Since the massive earthquake and tsunami in March last year triggered the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, no Japanese reactor halted for scheduled checkups has been restarted amid public concern over the safety of nuclear power.

Japan's last operating commercial nuclear reactor at Hokkaido Electric's Tomari plant went offline on May 5 for mandatory routine maintenance, resulting in the complete idling of nuclear power sources. Nuclear power had supplied about 30 percent of the nation's electricity before the Fukushima crisis.

The central government is trying to resume operation of the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors of the Oi plant "to help ensure the stable supply of electricity ahead of the summer when demand for electricity peaks with the use of air conditioning".

Developed by the German Airspace Institute (DLR) and the Japanese Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies (ISEP), Greenpeace’s Energy [R]evolution scenario for Japan shows that it can be back on track for its 2020 climate objectives without restarting any nuclear reactor, and phasing out nuclear power by May 2012.

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