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Takaham No.4 due to restart on Friday

February 25, 2016


Takahama No. 4 reactor to restart on Friday



Kansai Electric Power Company says it will restart on Friday another reactor at the Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan.

The plant in February last year cleared strict government regulations adopted after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident. Its No. 3 reactor was restarted late last month.

Final preparations are underway at the No. 4 reactor.

The plant's engineers are expected to check control rods on Friday morning. If no problems are found, the utility plans to start removing 32 rods at 5 PM Friday.

Kansai Electric says the reactor will achieve a sustained nuclear chain reaction in about 13 hours.

The firm plans to start generating and transmitting power on Monday and resume commercial operation in late March.

Also on Thursday, inspectors from the Nuclear Regulation Authority are conducting final inspections of the No. 3 reactor.

If it passes and receives certification by the NRA, the reactor could start commercial operation as soon as Friday afternoon.

The No. 4 reactor would be the 4th to restart under the regulations, following the No. 3 and 2 more at the Sendai nuclear plant in the southwestern prefecture of Kagoshima.


Kansai Electric to restart another Takahama reactor under new rules



FUKUI, Japan (Kyodo) -- Kansai Electric Power Co. said Thursday that a reactor at its Takahama nuclear plant is slated to restart Friday, becoming the second unit to run on uranium-plutonium mixed oxide fuel under new rules set after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The No. 4 reactor at the plant in Fukui Prefecture, western Japan, will be brought back online as the fourth reactor in Japan to operate under post-Fukushima stricter regulations.

Kansai Electric rebooted the No. 3 unit at the same complex last month, also using mixed oxide fuel which is created by plutonium and uranium extracted from spent nuclear fuel. MOX fuel is a key component of the nuclear fuel cycle program pursued by the nuclear power industry and the government.

Last year, two reactors came back onstream at Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture.

The latest restart comes as concern about the safety of the No. 4 unit grew recently after radioactive coolant water leaked last Saturday in a building attached to the reactor, containing a radioactivity level below that which is needed to be reported to the state.

The leak was caused by insufficient tension of a bolt used in a valve installed in a pipe and the utility has taken steps to prevent a recurrence.

The government is looking to reactivate more reactors to meet a goal of generating at least 20 percent of Japan's overall electricity with nuclear power generation in 2030.

A reactor at Shikoku Electric Power Co.'s Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture is expected to follow suit with permission for resumption already given by regulators and the local government.

Kansai Electric is also seeking to resume operations of two more reactors at the Takahama plant, both of which are more than 40 years old.

The aging reactors gained initial approval from the nuclear regulation body Wednesday and could be the first reactors operating beyond the government-mandated 40 years service period under the new safety rules.

But it remains uncertain whether they can actually restart as further permissions obtained from the regulator are necessary to operate beyond the 40-year limit by the July 7 deadline.

The new safety rules prohibit the operation of nuclear reactors beyond four decades in principle, but they can be allowed to continue operation for up to 20 more years if operators make safety upgrades and pass the regulator's screening.

Kansai Electric said the Takahama No. 4 unit will begin operations for restart on Friday afternoon and is expected to reach criticality, or a state of sustained nuclear chain reaction, early Saturday.

The reactor will begin generating and sending electricity as early as next Monday.

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