TEPCO to seek local govts' OK to restart nuke plant

TOKYO Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:24pm EST

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TOKYO Feb 19 (Reuters) - Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) (9501.T) said on Thursday it would request approval from three local governments to restart one of the seven nuclear generators at its quake-hit nuclear plant in northern Japan.

The move came a day after the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan said there was no problem with the first test restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, in line with the conclusion last week of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency under the trade ministry.

Despite getting the Japanese government's approval, TEPCO, Asia's biggest utility, still needs approval from three local authorities -- the city of Kashiwazaki, the village of Kariwa and Niigata Prefecture -- to restart the 1,356-megawatt No. 7 nuclear generator at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

TEPCO said senior company officials would visit the three regional governments later on Thursday.

Niigata Prefecture Governor Hirohiko Izumida said on Wednesday he would arrange a meeting with Kashiwazaki Mayor Hiroshi Aida and Kariwa Mayor Hiroo Shinada to discuss the restart, according to a prefectural official.

Izumida has indicated he will make a decision on the restart after a prefectural panel of experts files a report on its findings. The panel is to meet on Monday to discuss the quake resistance and structural soundness of the No. 7 unit.

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, the world's-biggest nuclear plant by capacity, has been shut since a powerful quake hit the region in July 2007, and the newest and least damaged No. 7 unit would be the first of the seven to be restarted. (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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