Anti-nuclear campaigners have welcomed the firm line being taken by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority requiring power companies to comply with new security regulations to combat terrorist attacks. The NRA said this week that nine reactors at five nuclear plants across Japan are presently operational, but they will have to be shut down again if the facilities do not meet requirements on anti-terrorist defences by deadlines set for individual plants by the regulators. A reactor at the Sendai nuclear plant, operated by Kyushu Electric Power, was the first to resume operations after all Japan’s nuclear reactors were shut down in the aftermath of the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Kyushu Electric was given until March 2020 to install anti-terrorist defences, but the operator expects it will take one more year to complete the work. Similarly, Kansai Electric Power anticipates that work at its Takahama plant will run one year beyond the August 2020 deadline. Improved defences were part of the wide-ranging improvements forced upon the nuclear industry after the Fukushima disaster, with operators now required to improve fences and build underground bunkers from where the reactors could be operated in the event of an emergency. Possible emergencies cited in the new guidelines include an aircraft being deliberately flown into a reactor building. In a meeting with the NRA earlier this month, operators requested that the deadlines be extended. One week later, the Yomiuri newspaper reported, the five NRA commissioners unanimously rejected the requests and said any facilities that did not meet the required standards would be shut down. Toyoshi Fuketa, chairman of the NRA, said in a press conference on Wednesday that the operators had miscalculated badly, both in terms of the work that needed to be done and the attitude of the regulators. It’s good to see the NRA putting its foot down, even though this would be considered perfectly normal elsewhere Caitlin Stronell, Citizens’ Nuclear Information Centre “Not only were they overly optimistic about the construction work scheduled, but they were also too optimistic about the reaction from the regulatory authorities,” he said. “They were grossly mistaken if they thought they might find a way through by asking for an extension.” Caitlin Stronell, a campaigner with the Tokyo-based Citizens’ Nuclear Information Centre, applauded the NRA’s position. “These operators are not used to a regulator that enforces the rules and, up until now, the agencies that have overseen their activities have always been pretty lenient,” she told the South China Morning Post . Restore confidence in nuclear power “It’s good to see the NRA putting its foot down, even though this would be considered perfectly normal elsewhere,” she said. “Right up until the Fukushima disaster, safety regulations in the industry here were a joke and nobody was really taking much notice. That has changed and it’s obviously good that the NRA is a completely different regime that does not allow operators to get away with breaches.” Japan in general does not consider terrorism to be a major threat and operators may have hoped that they could drag their feet because of the huge cost of making sure their facilities were terrorist-proof, Stronell said, but threatening to shut the reactors down shows the regulator “is doing exactly what it is supposed to do”.