Six Japanese utilities to investigate possible RPV steel anomalies

7 September 2016

Some 13 Japanese nuclear reactors were built using steel from the Japan Casting & Forging Company (JCFC) which also supplied steel for France’s Flamanville NPP, where the French safety authority, Autorite de Surete Nucleaire (ASN), last year found anomalies in the reactor pressure vessel’s (RPV’s) structure. In separate statements on 2 September, six Japanese utilities said they had used steel from JCF. Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) in August asked utilities to examine reactor parts manufactured by the same companies as the Flamanville facility. The utilities must now evaluate whether their RPVs meet Japan’s standards and report the results to NRA by 31 October.

The affected NPPs include units 1 and 2 at Kyushu Electric Power Co’s Sendai NPP which was restarted last year and is facing opposition from the region’s new governor, who has demanded they be temporarily shut for inspections. However, Yoko Kobayashi, an official with the NRA’s planning division, said on 2 September that reactors that are currently operating do not need to be shut down. She said the affected utilities are now required to submit manufacturing reports and past evaluation results.

The other plants affected (but not currently operating) are units 2 and 4 at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Fukushima Daiini NPP; unit 2 at Kansai Electric Power Co’s Takahama NPP and units 1 and 2 at its Ohi NPP; units 2-4 at Kyushu Electric Power Co’s Genkai NPP; unit 2 at Shikoku Electric Power Co’s Ikata NPP; unit 1 at Hokuriku Electric Power Co’s Shika NPP; and unit 2 at Japan Atomic Energy Agency’s Tsuruga NPP.

JCFC official Seigo Otsubo said parts manufactured by the company met rigorous standards requested by the utilities, and the company will provide support going forward. France’s EDF and Areva are conducting additional tests to determine whether the anomalies are a safety issue. They said in April that submission of their report on Flamanville to French regulators has been delayed until December. ASN said in June that EDF has also found that steam generator channel heads at 18 French reactors contain anomalies similar to those at Flamanville.

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