Japan’s TEPCO Could Restart Reactors Quicker than Expected

- April 17th, 2018

Niigata prefecture Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama, who has opposed restarts at TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, is considering resigning.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TSE:9501) may be a step closer to restarting its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant.

According to Reuters, shares of the company rose over 4 percent on the news that Ryuichi Yoneyama, governor of Japan’s Niigata prefecture, where the plant is located, could be set to resign.

Yoneyama, who has opposed restarts at the plant, said Tuesday (April 17) to a Japanese broadcaster that he is considering resigning, but has not yet decided. He said his potential resignation is due to a “woman problem,” but did not elaborate.

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Prior to Yoneyama’s statement, numerous media outlets had reported that he was set to resign.

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant is the largest in the world, with seven reactors that can generate 8,212 megawatts of electricity. Reuters notes that restarting the plant is “crucial” to TEPCO’s recovery after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Yoneyama has said that a better understanding of the incident is needed before any restarts at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa take place. TEPCO currently has approval to restart two of the reactors at the plant, but needs to carry out additional work before that happens.

The governor of Niigata prefecture must also sign off before any restarts can occur, although that is not a legal requirement. Yoneyama has said that the health impacts of the radiation released during the Fukushima meltdown should be analyzed.

US-focused uranium stocks were on the rise on Monday (April 16) after news hit that Russian sanctions could impact US uranium supply. However, gains for those companies had largely subsided by Tuesday.

The uranium industry has been under pressure in the years since the Fukushima disaster, plagued by oversupply and low prices. In recent months, supply cuts from major miners Kazatomprom and Cameco (TSX:CCO,NYSE:CCJ) have left market watchers hopeful that a rebound is on the horizon.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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