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Mayor to link reactor decommissioning to restarting 2 others at same TEPCO plant

KASHIWAZAKI, Niigata -- The mayor of this city, home to the idled Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant, said he intends to demand at least one of five reactors at the plant be decommissioned as a precondition for restarting two others.

"I'm not assuming that all seven reactors will be in operation," Mayor Masahiro Sakurai told a regular news conference on June 1.

This is the first time that the mayor has mentioned specifically the possible decommissioning of reactors at the power station.

Mayor Sakurai said, "There are growing worries for local residents," citing the insufficient strength of the power station's special quake-proof building that will serve as a headquarters in the event of an emergency and North Korea's firing of missiles.

Sakurai suggested it is inevitable to scale down the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant. "Considering the Fukushima nuclear accident, seven reactors are too many," he said.

At the same time, the mayor emphasized that he does not intend to demand that all of the No. 1 to 5 reactors at the plant be shut down as a precondition for reactivating the No. 6 and 7 units, for which the Nuclear Regulation Authority is conducting safety inspections.

He said he will offer to leave a decision on which reactors will be decommissioned to plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and the national government, and urged these entities to present a decommissioning plan within two years.

Mayor Sakurai also said he believes that businesses related to the reactor decommissioning will help revitalize the local economy.

In response to the mayor's comments, a TEPCO official said, "We haven't heard anything directly from the Kashiwazaki Municipal Government. We'd like to continue to listen to their opinions on us."

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