17 Mars 2015
March 17, 2015
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Two utilities on March 17 formally decided to decommission three nuclear reactors in operation for more than 40 years instead of investing in upgrades required under stricter safety standards.
Makoto Yagi, president of Kansai Electric Power Co., informed Fukui Governor Issei Nishikawa that the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the Mihama nuclear power plant in his prefecture would be decommissioned.
“We made the decision based on comprehensive considerations, including construction expenses and the period of possible operations,” Yagi said at the meeting. “By placing priority on safety, we want to return the reactor sites to empty plots of land as quickly as possible.”
The No. 1 reactor, with an output of 340 megawatts, went into operation in 1970, while the No. 2 reactor has an output of 500 megawatts and has been in operation since 1972.
Also on March 17, Japan Atomic Power Co. President Yasuo Hamada told Fukui prefectural government officials that the company decided to decommission the No. 1 reactor at its Tsuruga plant in the prefecture.
That reactor started operating in 1970 and has an output of 357 megawatts.
The two utilities will inform the central government of their decommissioning decisions as early as March 19.
The companies realized that it is no longer cost-effective to make the necessary investments to continue running the aging reactors under tougher safety standards established after the 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The relatively small outputs of the three reactors meant it would be difficult for the two companies to recoup any investments made for the upgrades.
After the Fukushima nuclear accident, the central government also established a clear operating deadline for all nuclear reactors. In principle, the operating life span has been set at 40 years, and it can be extended by up to 20 years only once.
The government had also asked utilities operating the seven reactors that will reach that 40-year operating period by July 2016 to decide whether they will decommission those reactors.
Any utility that decides to extend operations at such old reactors would have to first clear a special safety screening for wear and tear at the reactor. That screening would involve additional costs for the utility above and beyond the investments needed to improve measures against earthquakes and tsunami.
Two other utilities are expected to formally decide to decommission reactors as early as March 18.
Chugoku Electric Power Co. is expected to decommission the No. 1 reactor at its Shimane nuclear plant in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, while Kyushu Electric Power Co. will likely decommission the No. 1 reactor at its Genkai nuclear plant in Saga Prefecture.
On March 17, Kansai Electric Power also submitted safety screening applications to the Nuclear Regulation Authority for the resumption of operations at three other reactors that have been in operation for close to 40 years.
The applications will be made for the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the Takahama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture as well as the No. 3 reactor at the Mihama nuclear plant.
The two reactors at Takahama have been in operation since 1974 and 1975, and both have outputs of 826 megwatts. The Mihama No. 3 reactor began operations in December 1976 and has an identical output.
Mar. 17, 2015 - Updated 05:17 UTC+1
Two nuclear power plant operators in Japan have decided to scrap 3 reactors that are older than the government's recommended age limit of 40 years.
The closures will be the first since the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011, aside from those at the crippled Daiichi plant.
Board members of Kansai Electric Power decided on Tuesday to decommission the No.1 and No.2 reactors at the company's Mihama plant in Fukui Prefecture. President Makoto Yagi has visited the prefectural office to report the decision.
In addition, the board of Japan Atomic Power has decided to scrap the No.1 reactor at the company's Tsuruga plant, which is also in Fukui.
The government set the general 40-year-limit after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in 2011.
Two more utilities, Kyushu Electric and Chugoku Electric, are set to formally decide on Wednesday to scrap one reactor each.
All the reactors slated for decommissioning have relatively small outputs that apparently do not justify the costs of updating.
New government regulations require utilities to introduce robust and costly safety measures in order to resume operations. All nuclear reactors in Japan remain offline.
OSAKA (Kyodo) -- The operators of two nuclear power plants in Fukui Prefecture decided Tuesday to scrap three old reactors, the industry's first response to a 2013 government regulation against reactors running for over 40 years amid public safety concerns in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.
Kansai Electric Power Co. decided at a board meeting to decommission the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors at its Mihama nuclear power plant, while Japan Atomic Power Co. also decided to scrap the No. 1 reactor at its nearby Tsuruga nuclear plant.
But Osaka-based Kansai Electric also applied to the Nuclear Regulation Authority for a screening process on other reactors that are around 40 years old -- the No. 3 Mihama reactor and Nos. 1 and 2 units at the Takahama plant elsewhere in Fukui -- in hope of gaining the regulator's safety clearance, a prerequisite for their restart.
Kansai Electric President Makoto Yagi explained the shutdown plan for the two Mihama reactors to Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa the same day.
A regulation brought in following the March 2011 nuclear catastrophe at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant forbids nuclear reactors from operating for more than 40 years in principle, but they may be allowed to continue operating for up to 20 more years if the operators make safety upgrades and the unit passes the regulator's screening.
Kansai Electric had considered attempting to restart the two Mihama reactors, but apparently judged that the cost of refitting them was not feasible given their relatively small output of 340 million and 500 million watts, respectively.
Two other utilities -- Chugoku Electric Power Co. and Kyushu Electric Power Co. -- are also expected to decide at board meetings on Wednesday to scrap their aging No. 1 reactors at the Shimane plant in Shimane Prefecture and the Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture.
The four electric utilities are expected to submit notifications of their decisions to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on Thursday.
The Japanese government is pushing for the restart of nuclear power plants, all shuttered in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster. By closing at least some aging reactors and carrying out safety screening of every reactors before it is allowed to go back online, the government aims to reassure a Japanese public still wary of nuclear power's risks.
The operators of two nuclear power plants in Fukui Prefecture said Tuesday they will scrap three old reactors, the first such move since a 2013 government regulation spelled out the steps required to keep reactors running beyond their planned 40-year service life.[…]
March 16, 2015
Mar. 16, 2015 - Updated 23:48 UTC+1
Two nuclear power plant operators in Japan are planning to scrap 3 reactors that are older than the government's recommended age limit. The reactors are located in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan.
Following the accident at Fukushima Daiichi in 2011, the government set a lifespan of 40 years, in principle, for reactors. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has urged operators to consider decommissioning reactors that have already surpassed that age.
Kansai Electric Power Company has apparently decided to scrap the No.1 and No.2 reactors at its Mihama nuclear power plant. Japan Atomic Power Company is planning to shut down the No.1 reactor at its Tsuruga plant.
The operators will finalize their decisions at board meetings on Tuesday. They will convey the outcomes to local leaders, including the prefectural governor.
The cost of meeting new safety requirements in order to keep operating the reactors is likely a factor. The reactors have relatively small output that would not justify the expense.
If the decisions to scrap the reactors are confirmed, the reactors will be the first aside from Fukushima Daiichi to be dismantled since the 2011 nuclear disaster.
The operators plan to pass their decisions on to the ministry on Thursday if local municipalities accept the closures. Two other utilities, Chugoku Electric Power Company and Kyushu Electric Power Company are also considering scrapping outdated reactors.