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Japan's Kyushu Electric begins loading reactor fuel

(Agencies) Updated: 2015-07-08 17:05

Japan's Kyushu Electric begins loading reactor fuel

A fuel rod is inserted into a reactor vessel inside the No 1 reactor building at Kyushu Electric Power's Sendai nuclear power station in Satsumasendai, Kagoshima prefecture, Japan, July 8, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

TOKYO - Kyushu Electric Power Co started loading uranium fuel rods into a reactor on Tuesday, marking the first attempt to reboot Japan's nuclear industry in nearly two years after the sector was shutdown following the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has been pushing to bring some of the country's reactors back online, arguing they are key to economic growth, but opinion polls show a consistent majority oppose restarts, even though power bills have risen as utilities use expensive liquefied natural gas to generate power.

Loss-making Kyushu, the monopoly supplier on a southwestern island of the same name, says starting the No 1 reactor at its Sendai nuclear station would help it reduce costs incurred from burning fossil fuels by about $60 million a month.

Fuel loading at the Sendai No 1 reactor began a little after 0430 GMT on Tuesday, Kyushu said in statement.

The company will load 157 fuel assemblies into the 890-megawatt reactor by Friday, after which regulators will make final checks, spokesman Tomomitsu Sakata said.

Kyushu, which reported a fourth year of losses for the 12 months ended March, expects to begin starting up the reactor around mid-August, he added.

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