A nuclear power reactor in Japan that was damaged by the 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster has reportedly received the nuclear watchdog's approval to resume operations. The Tohoku Electric Power told an international media outlet on November 27 that it has won the initial regulatory approval from Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority to restart the No. 2 reactor at its Onagawa Power Plant. Onagawa was reportedly the closest among Japan's nuclear stations to the epicentre of the earthquake back in 2011 which triggered a tsunami.
According to reports, the station was swamped by the tsunami, however, it survived with its cooling system intact which saved its reactors from the threat of meltdowns similar to those that occured at Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi station to the south. The power plant expects to spend approximately $3.1 billion on safety upgrades, including for a wall stretching 800 meters in length and standing as tall as 29 meters above sea level to protect from tsunamis. An international media has further reported that approximately nine reactors have been restarted and all of them pressurized water reactors located far from Tokyo.
Nuclear safety highlighted again
The issue of nuclear safety in Japan was highlighted again when Pope Francis earlier this week met with the Hiroshima survivors. In his speech, he said that the use of atomic energy for the purposes of war is immoral and that humanity will be judged on this. Pope Francis described all nuclear bombs as 'a crime' as he was appealing for an end to atomic weapons. The Pope's Hiroshima visit came after his highly symbolic visit to Nagasaki hours earlier. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the only two cities in the world to be directly destroyed by atomic bombs. The atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 killed over 140,000 people and the bomb at Nagasaki killed over 74,000 three days later. Calling it a "black hole of destruction", Pope Francis described how everything was devoured and destroyed in merely an instant.
He called the continued use of atomic energy for the purposes of war a crime against any possible future for "our common home". The Pope has said that he felt that he had a duty to come here, to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on a pilgrimage of peace and commended the present survivors on their strength and dignity.