Hitachi GE eyes Japanese decommissioning

12 November 2015

Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy has said it would start a business to decommission boiling water reactors (BWRs) in Japan. Hitachi-GE is a joint venture established by Hitachi and General Electric in July 2007. In addition, the company agreed to tie up with the UK's Cavendish Nuclear and Areva NC, a subsidiary of France's Areva, for the reactor decommissioning business.

In Japan, 14 reactors at seven nuclear plants, including the six reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima Daiichi plant, are set to be scrapped. Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy is apparently considering supporting the decommissioning of units 1 and 2 at Chubu Electric Power Co's Hamaoka plant in Shizuoka Prefecture, and the unit 1 at Chugoku Electric Power Co's Shimane plant in Shimane Prefecture. Other units in Japan set for decommissioning include Kansai Electric Power Co's Mihama 1&2, Kyushu Electric Power Co's Genkai 1, Japan Atomic Power Company's Tsuruga 1.

Hitachi-GE said it would take preparatory steps towards decommissioning Japanese BWRs using the international experience of the two companies. Intensive studies have been launched, it said, on how to decommission nuclear reactors in Japan and some utilities have started "concrete preparations" for their decommissioning programmes. Hitachi-GE said it "would like to take the lead in the decommissioning business by reflecting each company's advantageous position from the early stage of the study."

Areva and Cavendish are "well established and respected providers" of nuclear engineering and decommissioning services, Hitachi-GE said. Cavendish has "significant experience of decommissioning planning and engineering, waste management and reactor decommissioning for UK and European gas-cooled and light-water nuclear reactors," it said. Areva has "accumulated robust decommissioning experience, not only in Europe but also in the USA, including [with] BWR reactors".

Hitachi-GE has been involved with 23 reactors in Japan to date, including those currently under construction. Among them, it has participated in all of Japan's Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) projects. Four ABWRs are already operational - Kashiwazaki Kariwa 6 and 7, Hamaoka 5 and Shika 2, and Shimane 3 and Ohma are under construction.

Overseas, it has supplied reactor equipment for Taiwan's Lungmen nuclear power plant, although, the unit has been mothballed for an initial period of three years. Hitachi-GE is also making progress towards deployment of the UK ABWR, following confirmation that UK regulators will move to the final step of the Generic Design Assessment (GDA), which is scheduled for completion by the end of 2017.

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