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Japan reactivates repaired nuclear reactor

TSURUGA, Japan, May 6 (UPI) -- Japan's fast-breeder nuclear reactor in Tsuruga, out of commission for 14 years after a fire and sodium coolant leak, was restarted Thursday, officials said.

A spokesman for Japan's Atomic Energy Agency said the power plant's reactor was fired up after the government gave the go-ahead, the BBC reported.

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The Yomiuri Shimbun reported the reactor was expected to reach the self-sustaining point as early as Saturday. The plutonium type reactor was restarted at 10:36 a.m. after plant workers removed rods preventing nuclear reaction.

The reactor will be tested in late July to check its core and then, assuming there are no problems, the power plant's output will be raised gradually reaching full output in the spring of 2013, the newspaper said.

The BBC said the accident that forced the shutdown resulted in no injuries and no release of radiation, but coming just two years after starting operation raised concerns about the safety of the plant. The plant's operators were criticized for concealing the extent of damage to the reactor, the BBC said.

An advantage of the fast-breeder reactor is that it produces more plutonium than it consumes, enabling it to reuse the nuclear fuel.

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