Uncertain prospects for Japan’s NPPs

9 August 2016

Japan’s Shikoku Electric Power Company plans to restart unit 3 at its Ikata NPP in Ehime prefecture on 12 August. Shikoku Electric initially planned to restart unit 3 in July, but problems detected during final inspections caused a delay. The relevant parts have now been replaced and a follow-up inspection completed.

Ikata will be the third NPP to come back online under new regulations adopted after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident. Currently, two reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Company’s Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture have resumed power generation, although the newly elected governor of Kagoshima wants them closed for further checks. Two other reactors which were restarted at Kansai Electric Power Company’s Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture have been closed again after a court issued an injunction at the request of local residents over safety concerns. Kansai has appealed.

Meanwhile, the Nuclear Regulation Authority on 3 August cleared key safety screenings for the ageing unit 3 reactor at Kansai Electric’s Mihama NPP in Fukui Prefecture. NRA decided that the reactor, which will reach its 40 year design life in December, meets the new safety standards. Mihama 3 is the third unit to satisfy the standards among ageing reactors. The others are units 1 and 2 at Kansai Electric's Takahama plant. Reactors in the country can operate for a maximum of 40 years in principle. If the Mihama reactor passes the additional necessary NRA checks by the end of November, it would be allowed to extend its operations for up to 20 years.

The government of Yamaguchi prefecture has renewed Chugoku Electric Power Company's licence for carrying out groundwork at the site of its planned Kaminoseki NPP. The utility received a four-year licence in October 2008 to conduct earthworks at the site - some 40% of which would be located on reclaimed land - and preparatory works began a year later, but were suspended following the Fukushima accident. The local government has said the work should not resume until Chugoku submits a schedule for constructing the plant facilities.

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