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Safety measures too expensive: Five reactors to go

March 12, 2015

Four utilities to decommission five aging nuclear reactors




To avoid paying enormous sums for new safety measures, four electric power companies plan to decommission five nuclear reactors that have been operating for about 40 years, sources said March 12.

The companies are expected to announce their decisions next week and report their plans to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on March 19.

The utilities are currently coordinating their schedules to explain the plans to local authorities as early as March 18.

The five reactors to be decommissioned will be: the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors of Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Mihama nuclear power plant in Mihama, Fukui Prefecture; the No. 1 reactor of Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai nuclear power plant in Genkai, Saga Prefecture; the No. 1 reactor of Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s Shimane nuclear power plant in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture; and the No. 1 reactor of the Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tsuruga nuclear power plant in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture.

The outputs of the five reactors range from 340 to 559 megawatts, less than half of those of the latest models.

The utilities judged it would be better to decommission the reactors than spend for additional measures under stricter safety standards for their continued use.

In addition, the government changed accounting rules so that the utilities can spread out the losses from the decommissioning process instead of booking huge one-time losses.

After the accident started at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011, the government stipulated that the operating life span of nuclear reactors is 40 years in principle, and can be extended by up to 20 years only once.

The deadline for applications to extend the operations of the five aging reactors is in July this year.

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