Japan's Nuclear Options
Several companies applied to Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority on July 8 for permission to restart a total of 10 nuclear reactors in the country. Despite widespread apprehension in Japan about nuclear power following the Fukushima disaster in 2011 that led to the shutdown of all of the country's 54 nuclear reactors, the plan to restart the reactors may succeed for a few reasons.
The reactors are located in four different prefectures and are all on the less densely populated west coast, which is also less vulnerable to tsunamis than the east coast. Additionally, their type and age will likely make it easier for the reactors to pass newly established safety standards. Finally, unlike much of the rest of the country, the local governments in the prefectures housing the plants that applied for restart are either neutral or pro-nuclear power.
Nuclear power remains the most immediate solution to reduce Japan's expensive energy imports, and these reactors could offer the country a chance to slowly bring nuclear power back online.
However, even these plants will have to deal with new, lengthy safety inspections, and they will likely not restart until 2014 at the earliest -- and then only if they do not face major opposition at the local level.
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