In case any of our readership missed it, Japan passed an important milestone on Tuesday. Kyushu Electric Power Co. has started reloading fuel into the No. 1 reactor at Sendai nuclear power plant, a process that will take four days of careful operation.
This is a momentous development.
It is never easy to reengage with nuclear power after an accident, especially one of the magnitude of Fukushima. Safety and integrity of an operation must always be ensured, and public concerns addressed thoroughly, especially those not easily overcome in a population so directly affected by tragedy.
The progress at Sendai verifies, however, that this reentry into the nuclear sphere is in fact happening. The Japanese government and utilities have taken the utmost care getting to this point, evidenced by the numerous levels of inspections conducted in the intervening years.
This shift will happen. Loading the fuel into reactor No. 1 corroborates that the plant is indeed on track to reopen in August. Now is the time to recognize and embrace this reality. Japan’s progress on this front could not be of any greater importance right now.
Evidence is growing that the threats of climate change are even more dire than previously realized, and other renewables simply will not reach the necessary levels of innovation and base load capacity in time. Nuclear energy is vital to any scenario with hope of climate change mitigation, and Japan should be lauded for its continued dedication to developing its nuclear future and playing a role in the global energy sector.
I know the restart process has been extremely difficult and time-consuming but it has also been careful, deliberate, and inclusive– the right process for a country coping with the national disasters of March 11, 2011. We should recognize the importance of this milestone and expect further progress.