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Japan nuclear reactor to resume operations despite radioactive leak

Osaka-based Kansai Electric said it is not aware of any environmental impact of the leak.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Feb. 25, 2016 at 12:57 PM
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TOKYO, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- A Japanese nuclear power plant reactor that had shown signs of radioactive leaks is to resume operations.

Takahama nuclear power plant's No. 4 reactor is scheduled to return online Friday, the Asahi Shimbun reported, following the return of two reactors at the Sendai plant in southern Japan, and the resumption of operations at the Takahama plant of reactors No. 1, 2 and 3.

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The No. 4 reactor was suspended in July 2011 after a regular inspection and is returning online after four years and seven months.

But prior to the announcement, the plant's parent company Kansai Electric Power had said 36 quarts of contaminated water had been found in a structure next to the No. 4 reactor.

Osaka-based Kansai Electric said that it is not aware of any environmental impact of the leak, a conclusion that could have factored into its decision to restart the reactor.

A spokesman for the utility said they later found that one of the bolts on a "pipe valve" had been loosened, and after the discovery inspected all 80 pipe valves around the reactor before choosing to restart as early as Friday.

Japan has been steadily moving toward ending a nationwide hiatus on nuclear operations that was enforced in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pushed for the restarting of nuclear power plants, and Tokyo has said the reactivation is needed because importing fossil fuels for thermal power plants is a major cost for the country.

The Mainichi Shimbun reported Japan wants to enforce its policy of including nuclear power plants in the supply to comprise 20-22 percent of its energy portfolio.

There is also controversy over the life span of nuclear reactors, which are typically decommissioned after 40 years of service.

Reactors No. 1 and 2 at Takahama have been operating for more than 40 years.

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