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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 May 20 - 26  > Kyuden faces local criticism for giving priority to business-as-usual over anti-coronavirus efforts
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2020 May 20 - 26 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Kyuden faces local criticism for giving priority to business-as-usual over anti-coronavirus efforts

May 21, 2020
Residents in Kagoshima Prefecture are criticizing the Kyushu Electric Power Company (Kyuden) for giving priority to the operation of its nuclear power plant in the prefecture over efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The No. 2 reactor at the Kyuden Sendai Nuclear Power Plant on May 20 went offline as the utility failed to set up anti-terrorism facilities at the plant site to meet the deadline of May 21. Such terrorism prevention measures are a requirement set by the government’s new nuclear safety standards. The power company intends to complete the construction of the anti-terrorism facilities while conducting regular check-ups of the offline reactor.

A number of workers will come over to the Sendai NPP from inside and outside Kagoshima Prefecture to engage in the safety checks and the construction of counter-terrorism facilities. According to the utility, 450 Kyuden workers and 2,300 workers sent from its partner companies will be engaged in these works. The power company, however, has not revealed how many of the workers will come from outside the prefecture. Local residents express concern that an inflow of workers will undermine the community fight against COVID-19.

A citizens' organization in Kagoshima has urged the power company to halt the construction work during the coronavirus crisis. Torihara Ryoko, who heads the civil group opposing the Sendai NPP, said, “As part of infection prevention efforts, citizens are refraining from conducting various activities. Nevertheless, the utility intends to carry out the construction work as planned. I am concerned about that.”

Japanese Communist Party member of the Kagoshima Prefectural Assembly Taira Yukio pointed out that the Kagoshima governor is asking residents to not travel beyond prefectural borders and that Kyuden should respect this request. He stressed that in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect residents’ health, Kyuden should suspend the construction work at the Sendai NPP at least for the time being. Taira noted that he is angry because the power company appears to think that the operation of the plant is more important than abiding by the infection prevention efforts.

Past related article:
> Suspension of Sendai NPP operations indicates laxness of nuclear regulations [March 21, 2020]
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