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Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc.’s (TEPCO) plan to restart the defunct Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant has an increased chance of being implemented after the prefecture governor, who has campaigned against its reopening, decided against running for re-election, according to a new report by Bloomberg.
TEPCO shares rose as much as 12 percent Wednesday morning - the largest price jump since May 2015, presumably in reaction to the announcement.
Niigata prefecture governor Hirohiko Izumida said he would not pursue a bid for a fourth term for the October 16th elections, a personal statement posted on his fan page said.
The governor has long opposed plans to return the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant - the largest of its kind in the world - to production. Japanese laws do not require that utility companies obtain the approval of local leaders before commencing operations, but it is the expected practice.
Izumida has previously demanded that TEPCO, who also owns the Fukushima Daichi and Daini facilities, conduct further investigations into the causes of the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant in 2011 before proposing plans to restart any of the firm’s reactors.
“The next Niigata governor will likely not make as many relentless demands as Izumida,” Japanese analyst Hidetoshi Shioda said.
According to the World Nuclear Association, the 2011 meltdown led to highly radioactive releases over days 4-6 after the incident originally occurred on March 11th.
The organization reports no deaths or cases of radiation sickness from the incident, though 100,000 citizens had been evacuated from the area to ensure minimal health effects.
The New York Times reported on Monday that Japanese government has funded the construction of a $320 million block of man-made permafrost that would continue 100 feet underneath the Dai-Ichi plant to solve “an unrelenting flood of groundwater” that had been headed into the damaged reactors.
The project will stop the leak of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean, which may be continuing at low levels to this day, The Times said.
TEPCO has applied to return reactors No. 6 and 7 to production at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa. The company expects to boost profits by $97 million a month for each reactor it restarts, TEPCO spokesperson Tatsuhiro Yamagishi said earlier this week.
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By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…