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Japanese nuclear plants move closer to re-opening

A number of nuclear facilities shut down after the Fukushima incident moved a step closer to re-activation today when the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority approved new safety requirements.

The new measures will take effect from July 8th and from that date operators in Japan can apply for inspections, which if passed, can enable re-openings to commence.

Plants who pass inspections, which can take several months to complete, can re-open later this year or 2014.

All but two of Japan’s 50 reactors have been offline since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that triggered multiple meltdowns and massive radiation leaks at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, 160 miles from Tokyo.

The new requirements for the first time make it compulsory for plants to take steps to guard against radiation leaks in the case of severe accidents such as a core melt, install emergency command centres and enact anti-terrorist measures.

Operators are also required to upgrade their protection against tsunamis and earthquakes.

In terms of world power generation prior to Fukushima, Japan would have been primarily seen as being dominated by nuclear power. Since the incident, fossil fuel has risen to the fore, something which the utilities have been complaining about, due to the costs involved.

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