Regional authorities in Japan have approved the restart of the idle nuclear power plant at Sendai, paving the way for a revival of the nuclear industry three years after it was shut down in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.
The southern Kagoshima prefecture has voted to back a move by a local township to restart the two-reactor Sendai plant.
Anti-nuclear protesters who had crowded into the hall were not shy in making their opposition known, waving banners with the word “no” written in large letters as they uttered howls of protest from the public gallery.
They did not manage to prevent 38 of the assembly’s 47 members from voting in favour.
They did manage to drown out the region’s pro-nuclear governor, who struggled to make himself heard above the din.
“With regards to the Sendai nuclear plant reactors 1 and 2, I take seriously the prefectural assembly’s decision to approve the petition to restart and believe that their intent to restart has been shown,” Yuichiro Ito said, though few in the chamber heard his words.
Lying 1,000 kilometres southwest of Tokyo, the Sendai nuclear plant should become the first to re-open since an earthquake and tsunami sent the Fukushima station into meltdown in 2011.
The vote represents a victory for Japan’s government, which has been forced to import expensive fossil fuels to replace atomic power.
Until the disaster, the nuclear industry supplied around 30 percent of Japan’s electricity.
Sendai will operate under a new independent regulator, but is unlikely to open until next year pending further safety checks.
Also watch- our Silent Disasters report, 3 years after the Fukushima disaster: