Japan will be fully without nuclear power on Sunday as Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi No. 4 reactor is shut down for regular safety inspections, officials said.
This will be the first time Japan is without nuclear power since July 2012, The Japan Times reported.
Inspections of nuclear reactors normally take four to six weeks.
“Safety is important, but if you waste time, that too has an effect on safety. The Fukui nuclear power plant sites have a long history and respond to risks. My position is therefore different from other prefectural governors,” said Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa, who has said he would like to see the inspection be completed as soon as possible.
Japan relies on nuclear power for about 32 percent of its electricity prior to the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Reports have surfaced that the national government has decided to advocate the renovation of hospitals, schools and other facilities located within a 5-kilometer radius of nuclear power plants across the country. The primary aim is to provide a viable option for the sick and elderly to remain in the facilities in case of a nuclear meltdown, as what happened during the March 11, 2011 Fukushima disaster.
Some 12 billion yen is said to be allocated for this very purpose during a supplemental budget for fiscal year 2012. This amount will also cover costs for the supply of dosimeters to public facilities. The structures will be refitted with airtight doors and windows to prevent radioactive materials expelled by a damaged nuclear power plant from entering the buildings. On the other hand, ventilation filters will placed to remove said materials.
The disaster management guidelines of the Nuclear Regulation Authority mandates people in the 5-kilometer radius of a nuclear plant to immediately evacuate in case of a disaster. In 2011, after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake creating the tsunami that caused the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown, some bedridden patients of the hospital near the plant died due to the stress of the evacuation. This incident sparked the municipalities to call on the national government for assistance on the matter.