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GROUPS FIGHT GOVT. POLICY ON NUCLEAR REACTORS IN JAPAN & BRITAIN

01/23/2012

Japanese plans to restart nuclear reactors and cap their lifespan at 60 years has drawn anger, as citizen protestors delayed a nuclear watchdog hearing on its stress test results last week. Local officials, whose approval is needed to relaunch nuclear power plants, said that the stress tests are not enough and demanded additional safety standards. "If local fears were to be dispelled over reactor restarts, it was important for the government to come up with a comprehensive set of safety standards and measures based on information from the Fukushima accident," said the mayor ofFukui's Ohi town. In addition, some residents have called for the local reactors to remain shut down, saying the reactors are simply too old to operate safely. In Britain, campaign group Fair Energy submitted a formal complaint to the European Commission over government incentives for nuclear plants. The group claims the United Kingdom is potentially granting seven unfair subsidies to nuclear energy providers, including a cap on liabilities for nuclear accidents and a uranium fuel tax exemption, as well as help with the cost of dealing with nuclear waste. "This complaint aims to shed some light on the recent shift in the energy policy of the United Kingdom where strong signals point to yet another set of subsidies to the nuclear power plant operators," said Dörte Fouquet, a lawyer leading the complaint. Caroline Lucas MP, Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, said that the policies contradict the coalition's plan not to give public money to the established nuclear industry, adding "it's clear that this is a subsidy by another name." For the story on Japan's relaunch of its reactors, see http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/19/us-japan-energy-idUSTRE80I0P920120119. For the story on nuclear subsidies in the UK, see http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jan/19/anti-nuclear-campaign-british-legal-challenge and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16646405.