Published on October 13th, 2011 | by Charis Michelsen8
Shut It Down — Mayor Calls to Decommission Tokaimura Reactor
October 13th, 2011 by Charis Michelsen
In the wake of public protests opposing nuclear energy, at least one elected official has joined the cause. Tokaimura Mayor Tatsuya Murakami called on the federal government to decommission the nuclear reactor in his town 68 miles northeast of Tokyo. The reactor, which has had some problems in the past, has been shut down for routine maintenance since the tsunami and resulting nuclear incidents of March 11 this year.
Tokaimura is at the heart of Japanese nuclear history, where its commercial nuclear power industry got its start in the late 50s, and its Tokai Daini reactor has seven years left on its 40-year operating license. Because of its proximity to Tokyo, TEPCO had been counting on its 1,100mW capacity to help make up for the power lost from the non-operational Fukushima Daiichi plant after its scheduled maintenance cycle ends in August of 2012.
The future of the Tokaimura plant remains unclear as Murakami, the first local official to insist on scrapping a reactor altogether, remains firmly opposed. He stated that if the tsunami had been slightly higher, the Tokai Daini reactor could have affected the far greater number of people in its 30km radius. Its proximity to Tokyo, he pointed out, is what makes it dangerous.
Murakami’s calls to action are not limited to the reactors. He has also called on his fellow citizens to better care for those displaced from Fukushima because of the crisis.
While only 10 of Japan’s 54 commercial reactors remain operational after routine maintenance shutdowns, no other elected officials have called for their removal. Prime Minister Noda, less harsh than his predecessor (who supported abolishing nuclear power entirely), wants local authorities to confirm the safety of the deactivated reactors and then switch them back on.
Reactors are currently undergoing stress tests, which will then be reported before local authorities can approve them for restarts.