Safety checks requested for new Japanese reactor

13 August 2018

Japan’s Chugoku Electric Power Company on 10 August applied to the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) for safety screening of unit 3 at its Shimane NPP, which is one of two new power reactors currently under construction. The other new reactor at J-Power’s Oma NPP in Aomori Prefecture, applied for safety checks in 2014 “With existing nuclear reactors currently restarting, we thought it was possible to file for checks of unit 3,” Tatsuo Kitano, Chugoku managing executive officer, told reporters. Work on Shimane 3 in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, is almost complete, and NRA safety checks are expected to proceed faster than for the Oma plant, which is intended to run entirely on mixed oxide (mox) fuel. Both are advanced boiling water reactors.

Shimane 3 will have a maximum output of 1,373MWe, making it one of the largest reactors in Japan. Construction began in 2005 with start up planned for March 2011. However, in February 2011 Chugoku announced that fuelling and start-up of the reactor had been deferred until June 2011, because of a fault with the control rod drive mechanism. Commercial operation was put back from December 2011 to March 2012. However, after the Fukushima disaster work on the project was stopped and more stringent safety standards for nuclear power plants were subsequently introduced. Chugoku Electric is spending around JPY500 billion ($4.5bn) on safety measures for the reactor, now hoping to finish the work by September 2019.

In May, Chugoku requested permission from the Shimane prefectural government and the Matsue city government in May to apply for NRA safety inspections and received consents on 9 August. Approval from local authorities will also be required before the new unit can operate.

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