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Hokkaido Electric Power Company gets approval for nuclear reactor

Japan’s Hokkaido Electric Power Company was given the goahead on Wednesday to commence commercial operation of a nuclear reactor. It is the first to receive approval to resume since the disaster in March at Fukushima Daiichi plant, which is owned Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco).

The change in status of the 912 MW Tomari No.3 reactor, however, does not mean a boost in energy output from the plant as the reactor has been operating in test status since four days before the March 11 disaster.

It also doesnࢀ™t suggest that other off-line reactors will easily achieve local approval to resume operation. A total of 39 of Japan’s 54 reactors which are currently halted are to undergo tests to confirm their safety.

Hokkaido governor Harumi Takahashi gave approval for commercial operation of the Tomari No.3 reactor in a press conference on Wednesday, and formal consent of the change in status by the trade minister was expected as early as the same day.

“I think the Hokkaido Governor is making a reasonable, commonly acceptable decision,” said Toshinori Ito, senior analyst at UBS Securities Japan.

“I hope that the governor’s decision will help leaders of other communities hosting reactors to calm down, face the reality and use their common sense.”

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