Japan's Shika may face decommissioning

30 July 2015

Japan's Shika nuclear power plant could face decommissioning an expert panel of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) maintained its opinion that fault lines running under the plant in Ishikawa Prefecture may be active. Plant operator, Hokuriku Electric Power Co plans to dispute the veracity of the panel's analysis by citing "factual error" in the assessment. Under new safety regulations for NPPs introduced after the 2011 Fukushima acident, no key facility or plant equipment may be built on an active geological fault.

The report followed a tentative assessment made by the panel in May. The panel comprises four independent geological specialists and NRA commissioner, Akira Ishiwatari. The fault, S-1, runs beneath the unit 1 reactor building. Panel members also pointed out that other faults, S-2 and S-6, both of which run under the piping for cooling water used by units 1 and 2 may also be active. However, they added that the impact of slippages of those faults could be limited as the faults lie deep below the surface.

The president of Hokuriku Electric Power Company Yutaka Kanai said he believes detailed company surveys proved that the fault under unit 1 is not active. He said the company will consider presenting more data and give a more thorough explanation to the NRA. Hokuriku Executive Vice President Akizumi Nishino said the firm does not agree with the report and is not considering decommissioning the reactor.

The NRA will also screen unit 2 to assess whether the facility can clear the new safety hurdles if Hokuriku Electric takes additional measures to reinforce the site. Under the new regulations, an active fault is defined as one that may have shifted during the past 120,000 to 130,000 years.

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