Japan’s nuclear regulator has given final safety approval for utility Kyushu Electric Power to restart the two reactors at its Sendai plant.

The restart received preliminary approval in July, followed by a public consultation period which has now ended. The plant (pictured) has now become Japan’s first to be certified as meeting the nation’s new, stringent post-Fukushima safety regulations.

“The applied design and safety features of Sendai NPS Units 1 and 2 were deemed to meet the … new regulatory requirements,” the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) said in a statement released today.

The NRA continued: “The decision was a result of a careful review of the 18,600 page document from Kyusyu [sic] Electric Power, taking more than 110 hours all together, holding 62 review meetings and conducting field investigations for safety assessment.”  

The regulator said it had received over 17,000 public comments on the proposed restart during the 30-day consultation period.

Despite winning final safety approval, the plant still must pass further hurdles. The restart must be approved by local authorities, which are reported to be in favour, and must also pass on-site inspections – all of which makes powering-up unlikely to happen before December.

The safety approval comes as Japan’s government presses the NRA to target older reactors for permanent shutdown. Up to one quarter of the nation’s 48 idled reactors – those over 40 years old – could be taken offline for good due to their greater safety issues.