Fukui: A nuclear reactor in western Japan began generating electricity at capacity on Monday, becoming the first of the country`s 50 commercial reactors to return to full service after all were taken offline in May in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis, its operator said.
The no 3 reactor at the Oi plant on the Sea of Japan coast in Fukui Prefecture started capacity generation at 1 am as planned, Kansai Electric Power Co said.
After confirming that the reactor is running at capacity, the government said it will lower its power-saving target for the utility`s service area, mainly in the Kansai region centering on Osaka, for this summer to 10 percent from the initially imposed 15 percent.
With the full operation of the reactor, the area`s projected power shortfall will decline to 9.2 percent from the initially estimated 14.9 percent.
The reaction of the public was divided.
"We are relieved that the prospect of a rolling blackout has receded. We hope for steady power supply so that tourists will come to Kansai without any concerns about electricity shortages," said an official with the Kyoto branch of the Japan Hotel Association.
Yoshitake Kimura, head of a local commerce chamber, said, "Nuclear power is an important pillar of industry that has supported our town. Our life will go back to normal when the no 4 reactor is activated."
Kensaku Miyamoto, a livestock farmer who is an opponent of the restart, said, "No evacuation plans, levees or vent filters have been set in place...Anxiety felt by the local people has not been taken into consideration at all."
"Kansai Electric has restarted the reactor without sufficiently proving its safety as it prioritised corporate interests," said Kiyoko Shimada, a leader of an anti-nuclear local civic group.
"Kansai Electric has never changed its way, even after the Great East Japan Earthquake."
The 1.18 million kilowatt reactor was restarted July 1 after being halted in March last year for periodic checks.
The utility is also preparing to restart the plant`s no 4 reactor with an eye to bringing it to full output on or after July 25, it added.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said "I fully understand Japanese people have mixed feelings. But we have decided it`s necessary to restart the Oi reactors after checking their safety. We have to give a full explanation about this (to the people)."