A Japanese governor has given a final approval to restart a nuclear power plant in the southern part of the country despite public opposition.
Yuichiro Ito, governor of Kagoshima Prefecture, said Friday that two reactors are expected to restart at the Sendai Nuclear Power Station.
“All things considered, I must say that we still need to rely on nuclear energy, and it is extremely important for us to steadily carry out the plan,” said Ito.
The two reactors are expected to resume operation early next year, pending further investigations by the country’s Nuclear Regulation Authority.
The decision came after the plant’s host town voted in favor of restarting the reactors. However, there have been worries among residents about resuming operations at the nuclear plant.
Opponents are concerned about several active volcanoes around the nuclear power station as a recent fatal volcanic eruption in northern Japan demonstrated that outbreaks are virtually unpredictable.
The Sendai reactors would become the country’s first atomic power station to resume operations under new safety rules.
All 48 workable reactors in Japan have been off-line for safety checks or repairs following the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, except for two which have been operating temporarily for about a year.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been pushing to resume operations at some of the country’s reactors, saying a prolonged shutdown hurts the country’s economy, which is now relying heavily on imported sources of energy.
In March 2011, a massive tsunami hit the Fukushima plant and caused fuel-rod meltdowns as well as radioactive contamination of air, sea and food. The incident, which is regarded as the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986, also led to the evacuation of 160,000 people.