Japan’s Ikata NPP to decommission one unit and restart another

26 March 2016

Japan's Shikoku Electric Power Co on 25 March decided to decommission the unit 1 reactor at its Ikata NPP in May. Shikoku Electric President Hayato Saeki conveyed the decision to the industry ministry and to Tokihiro Nakamura, governor of Ehime Prefecture, where the Ikata plant is located. The company had considered restarting the reactor, which will be 40 years old next year.

Nuclear reactors can operate for 40 years in principle under government regulations. Extensions of up to 20 years are allowed only if it can pass special inspections. It would have cost JPY170bn ($1.5bn) to implement the safety measures required by the Nuclear Regulation Authority's (NRA's) post Fukushima regulations to operate the plant beyond the standard 40 years. Ikata 1 will be the sixth reactor to be decommissioned since the Fukushima accident based on the 40-year rule.

However, Shikoku Electric has applied to the NRA for a final inspection to restart unit 3 at Ikata NPP, a 846MWe pressurized water reactor. The unit passed an initial inspection of its safety equipment last July and regulators are now checking the detailed plans of the equipment for quake resistance and other functions. In January, Shikoku applied to NRA to construct a back-up emergency response building at Ikata 3 as well as to install additional air-cooled emergency gas turbine generators at the unit.

The timetable is expected to involve refuelling the reactor in June, and restarting it the in July. If it passes the final inspection, it will be the fifth unit to be put back on line, following two reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Company's Sendai NPP in Kagoshima Prefecture and two at Kansai Electric Power Company's Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture

Sendai unit 1 was the first to be restarted last August, followed by Sendai 2 in October. Takahama unit 3 resumed operation in January and Takahama 4 in February. However, technical problems and an injunction imposed by a district court on 9 March has kept both Takahama 3 and 4 offline.

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