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May 27, 6:39 AM EDT

Japan nuclear plant obtains final permit needed to restart

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TOKYO (AP) -- A nuclear plant in southern Japan on Wednesday obtained the final permit needed to restart its reactors, paving the way for it to become the first to go back online under new safety standards introduced following the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority approved operational safety plans for the Sendai nuclear power station's two reactors, owned by Kyushu Electric Power Co., the last step of the authority's three-part screening process the utility needed to pass. The plant's safety program includes emergency response plans in case of fire, flooding or other natural disasters, or a serious accident.

The plant won safety approval in September for its reactors and equipment under tighter rules set after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami decimated the Fukushima plant in northeastern Japan, and was expected to be the first to restart.

Wednesday's approval leaves the Sendai utility needing only on-site checks before it can restart its reactors. Kyushu Electric plans to restart its No. 1 reactor in late July, and the No. 2 unit in late September, though there could be further delays.

The approval came nearly two years after Kyushu Electric submitted an application for the screening.

All of Japan's more than 40 reactors are currently offline for repairs or safety inspections.

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