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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 July 26 - August 1  > Sendai residents collecting signatures to stop coal-fired thermal power station operations
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2017 July 26 - August 1 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Sendai residents collecting signatures to stop coal-fired thermal power station operations

July 27, 2017
Residents in Miyagi’s Sendai City are waging a signature-collection campaign to shut down a coal-fired thermal power plant. They collected more than 40,000 signatures so far.

Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO) built the Sendai Power Station in the Sendai Port area this year. In defiance of local people’s concern over possible air pollution, the operator made a test run at the plant in June and plans to start full-fledged commercial operations in October.

The construction work of the thermal power station began in 2015. Local residents repeatedly requested the utility to hold explanatory meetings, but the company had not responded to the request until March this year when the plant buildings were almost completed.

KEPCO dodged taking the responsibility to explain to the public how much environmental damage the plant in question would cause. The national government requires an environmental assessment for the construction of a thermal power plant with an electricity output of 112,500 kilowatts or more, but the Sendai Power Station’s designated power output is 112,000 kilowatts. Although Sendai City’s ordinance makes it mandatory to conduct the assessment procedure on any power plant with an output of 30,000 kilowatts or more, the controversial project in Sendai Port obtained the city’s approval two months before the ordinance became effective.

The thermal power plant in Sendai uses older technologies and emits ten times more particulates and 7.6 times more nitrogen oxides than a plant with the latest technology installed.

Within a 5-km radius of the new coal-fired power plant, 150,000 people live and 32 schools including 17 elementary schools are located. Some fear that particles and other pollutants from the plant may cause health damage to children in particular. Doctor Mitobe Hidetoshi emphasized that environmental pollution hit children the hardest. He also pointed out that there is no established safe contamination level for particulates.

Local residents formed a group to oppose the coal-fired power plant. They organized various activities, including symposiums, study meetings, and a signature collection drive. Tohoku University Professor Hasegawa Koichi, co-head of the group, said that the carbon-intensive power generation runs counter to the Paris Agreement and other ongoing global efforts to tackle climate change. The group plans to sue the operator to close the power station.

Past related articles:
> Gov’t should stop promoting coal-fired power generation [May 16, 2017]
> Abe promotes sale of coal-fired plants [January 14, 2017]
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