Japan’s NRA approves restart of Ohi

25 May 2017

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has confirmed on 24 May that units 3 and 4 at  Kansai Electric Power Company’s Ohi NPP in Fukui Prefecture have passed safety examinations and could be restarted this autumn. However, the plant still needs approvals from the prefectural authorities and the local municipality, before the units can be restarted.

Ohi 3 and 4, both 1127MWe pressurised water reactors began commercial operation in 1991and 1993, respectively. NRA approved restart of the reactors despite a pending lawsuit filed by local residents seeking to block the resumption of operations. Kansai Electric has appealed against a Fukui District Court ruling in 2014 which banned it from running the two reactors due to safety concerns.

Seismologist Kunihiko Shimazaki, a former NRA commissioner, has warned that the authority may have underestimated the earthquake risk at Ohi.

All seven nuclear units for which Kansai Electric had filed safety applications have now been approved by the NRA as meeting new regulatory standards introduced after the March 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi accident. The others are units 1-4 at the Takahama NPP and Mihama 3, all in Fukui Prefecture. Kansai Electric is now preparing to file applications for Ohi 1&2.

With the recent restart of Takahama 4, four of Japan’s 42 operable reactors are back on line. The others are Kyushu Electric Power Company’s Sendai 1&2 in Kagoshima Prefecture and Shikoku Electric Power Company's Ikata 3 in Ehime Prefecture.  According to the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, 12 nuclear units at six sites have now been approved as meeting the new regulatory standards.

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