Japan’s NRA dealing with 26 restart applications

17 March 2017

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has accepted applications for the restart of 26 reactors at 16 sites since the introduction of new safety and security standards after the March 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi accident, the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (Jaif) said.

The applications are at different stages such as public comment, volcanic issues, geographical features and various design-related safety issues.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), which owns and operates the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear site, is planning to restart the seven boiling water reactor units at its Kashiwazaki Kariwa station in Niigita Prefecture, western Japan. Jaif said examinations at the facility are “generally in their final stages”, although a number of points of contention still need to be resolved. These include issues related to an emergency response area in the main anti-earthquake building and an emergency response area within the unit-5 reactor building. Tepco argues that the restart of Kashiwazaki Kariwa will generate “much-needed revenue” to offset rising costs and redress compensation claims arising from the 2011 accident.

Japanese fuel plant passes safety assessment

Meanwhile, NRA on 8 March approved a draft review report confirming that Global Nuclear Fuel-Japan (GNF-J) Company’s fuel fabrication plant in Kanagawa Prefecture is compatible with the new regulatory standards. The plant is the first nuclear fuel production facility to clear the examination since the new safety standards were introduced following the March 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi accident.

GNF-J, which produces nuclear fuel for boiling water reactors (BWRs), is part of a joint venture between General Electric Company (GE) of the US, Hitachi Ltd, and Toshiba Corporation. It applied for safety examination in April 2014. No BWRs in operation in Japan, and only small amounts of the fuel are produced in order to maintain the technology. Thirty-two of the 48 units in commercial operation in Japan at the time of the accident were BWRs, including all six units at Fukushima-Daiichi.

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