For the first time since the catastrophic 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant, Japan has approved the restart of a nuclear power station.
The town of Satsuma Sendai, home to 100,000 residents, has approved the restart of the two-reactor Kyushu Electric Power Company plant.
The Sendai plant is central to the economy of the town, located 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) southwest of Tokyo, providing jobs as well as government subsidies to the population.
The approval signals a rejuvenation in the Japanese nuclear power industry.
The meltdown of three of the plant’s six reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex resulted from a mammoth tsunami that struck the plant following a 9.0-magnitude earthquake that hit the Fukushima prefecture on March 11, 2011. Within less than 24 hours, the plant started releasing substantial amounts of radioactive material.
Israel was one of the first nations allowed by Japan to assist in the disaster. The IDF and other Israeli first responder aid specialists sent teams to Fukushima to provide medical and other assistance as needed.
Two planes carried 50 doctors, representatives of the IDF Home Front Command and Foreign Ministry, 62 tons of medical supplies and 18 tons of humanitarian supplies. Included were 10,000 coats, 6,000 blankets, 8,000 pairs of gloves and 150 portable toilets. Also included were medical instruments, fuel, oxygen, medication, food, water, hospital beds and other equipment for establishing a medical clinic.
More than 300,000 people were evacuated from the area, and at least 15,884 people died.
Since that time, Japan has not allowed any nuclear plant to resume operations.
Each nuclear reactor was slowly and carefully monitored as it wound down operations for its periodic maintenance, and then ordered to remain shut down until further notice.
The Kyushu Electric Power Company plant at Satsumu Sendai is the first to be allowed to restart since the disaster.
The cleanup process of continued spills of contaminated water at the Fukushima plant is expected to take decades, according to nuclear scientists. The disaster was the largest nuclear incident since the April 1986 Chernobyl accident, and the second to measure Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale.
Hana Levi Julian