24 Mai 2017
May 24, 2017
Japan's nuclear regulator has paved the way for the restart of 2 nuclear reactors at the Ohi power plant on the Sea of Japan coast.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority has adopted a report stating that safety measures at the plant in Fukui Prefecture meet new requirements set after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis.
The NRA had been receiving public comment in February and March on the draft assessment of the plant's No.3 and No.4 reactors.
It says it has amended some expressions in the final document as a result.
The plant in Ohi Town is the 6th nuclear plant to gain regulatory approval for new safety measures.
Operator Kansai Electric Power Company says it will complete safety-related work by July. But the utility still needs regulatory approval for equipment design. It also needs local consent to restart.
Observers say a restart before winter is unlikely.
The Fukui District Court had ruled against restarting the Ohi plant reactors 3 years ago. The utility is appealing the ruling.
However, the town and prefectural governments could decide whether to agree to a restart before the matter is resolved in court.
A former regulator has told the appeal court that the utility could have underestimated the maximum potential size of an earthquake.
Kansai Electric rejected this statement, saying its examinations were detailed and its assessments conservative.
May 24, 2017 (Mainichi Japan)
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Nuclear Regulation Authority formally confirmed Wednesday that two reactors on the Sea of Japan have met the country's post-Fukushima safety standards, paving the way for their restart possibly this fall.
The authority gave its final approval to a screening report submitted by Kansai Electric Power Co. on the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at Oi plant in Fukui Prefecture, bringing the number of reactors that have met the standards introduced after the 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant to 12 at six power stations.
For the restart, Kansai Electric still has to pass on-site pre-operational checks by the authority and obtain approval from the Fukui prefectural government.
The utility said in a statement it will "make utmost effort for the early restart of nuclear plants whose safety has been confirmed by gaining the understanding of local residents."
Although the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been promoting the restart of nuclear reactors, most of them remain offline amid safety concerns among local residents following the Fukushima disaster triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami.
The nuclear safety watchdog gave the green light to the restart of the reactors despite a pending lawsuit filed by local residents seeking to block the resumption of operations. Kansai Electric has appealed a Fukui District Court ruling in 2014 which banned it from running the two reactors due to safety concerns.
Seismologist Kunihiko Shimazaki, a former commissioner of the NRA, has warned that the authority may have underestimated quake hazards at the Oi plant.
Kansai Electric applied for the screening of the two reactors at the Oi plant in July 2013. With Wednesday's approval, all of its seven nuclear reactors at three power stations for which the utility has sought screening have cleared the safety standards.
Of the seven, the No. 4 reactor at Takahama plant in Fukui restarted operation on May 17, while the No. 3 reactor of the same plant is expected to get back online in early June.