Japan restarts first reactor since Fukushima

Tokyo, July 2, 2012 — After two months without nuclear energy and amid public protests, the Kansai Electric Power Co. restarted one 1,180 MW unit of the Ohi Nuclear Power Plant.

This unit at Ohi is Japan's first nuclear power plant to come online after a nationwide stress test ordered in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident.

The Japanese government cleared units No. 3 and No. 4 for restart June 16, mostly out of concern for power shortages throughout the summer. Reactor No. 4 at Ohi will restart later in July 2012.

Ohi's four nuclear reactors have a capacity of about 1,180 MW each. The reactors are pressurized water reactors designed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Westinghouse.

Japanese media reported about 100 protesters near the site of the Ohi plant. Plant operator Kansai Electric said the protesters would not affect normal plant operations. About 7,000 protesters marched through Tokyo to call for an end to nuclear power.

All the country's nuclear reactors were shut down for maintenance and then underwent safety checks to see if they could withstand an earthquake and tsunami similar to the disaster that overwhelmed Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi plant last year, causing the worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.

Before the Fukushima crisis, Japan relied on nuclear power for about 30 percent of its electricity and was the world's third-biggest user after the U.S. and France.

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