Japanese utility restarts nuclear reactor for test run

A Japanese utility company restarted a nuclear reactor Thursday for a test run, turning it on for the first time since it was shut down two years ago after causing the country's worst-ever nuclear plant accident, plant operator said.

Kansai Electric Power Co. restarted the No. 3 reactor at its Mihama Nuclear Power Plant for a 13-day test run, a final step before returning to full commercial operation, company spokesman Masaru Hamano said.

The reactor had been shut down since August 2004, when a corroded pipe ruptured and sprayed plant workers with boiling water and steam. Five workers were killed and six others were injured, although no radiation was released.

During the test operation, Kansai Electric plans to increase output to generate some electricity before shutting it down again on Oct. 3 for further safety review, which is expected to take about a month, Hamano said, reports AP.

"It would take at least 2-3 weeks to complete the planned checks, and if everything goes smoothly, we can finally resume commercial operation," Hamano said, adding that the reactor can return to full service as early as late October.

Kansai Electric has obtained consent from local residents for its planned resumption of the No. 3 reactor. After the accident, the company replaced equipment and implemented dozens of safety measures.