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Onawaga No.1 to be scrapped

October 26, 2018




Tohoku Electric to scrap aging Onagawa nuke plant reactor over maintenance costs



Tohoku Electric Power Co. has decided to decommission the idled No. 1 reactor at its Onagawa Nuclear Power Station in the northeastern Japan prefecture of Miyagi, the utility's president Hiroya Harada announced on Oct. 25.

The company decided to scrap the reactor after determining that it would be burdensome to bring it up to new safety standards implemented in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster triggered by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.


To bring the plant back online, Tohoku Electric would need to greatly strengthen the reactors against earthquakes and tsunamis, and provide measures against terrorism to pass strict screening by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA). Though the company has not provided details of the required work, it is believed it would cost a huge amount.

Furthermore, a rule implemented in the wake of the Fukushima disaster limits the operational life of nuclear reactors to 40 years in principle, and 34 years have passed since the Onagawa plant's No. 1 reactor went into service in June 1984. This means the reactor could only operate for a few years even if it were reactivated.


Additionally, the No. 1 reactor has an output of just 524,000 kilowatts, smaller than the 825,000 kilowatts of the plant's No. 2 and 3 reactors. All three reactors at the plant -- the oldest of four nuclear stations operated by Tohoku Electric -- remain idled in the wake of the 2011 tsunami, which flooded the No. 2 reactor building.


In its basic energy plan, the government has designated nuclear power as an important baseload source of energy, and it aims to increase the rate of nuclear power generation in the country to 20-22 percent of total electricity production by fiscal 2030. This is premised on having around 30 nuclear power reactors in operation, but since the Fukushima nuclear disaster, just nine reactors have passed NRA screening and been reactivated.


The decision to dismantle the No. 1 reactor at the Onagawa plant means that 10 reactors at seven plants -- not including the reactors at the disaster-stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in northeastern Japan -- have now been slated for decommissioning.


"Even if other nuclear power plants are reactivated in the future, unless exemptions are permitted to allow the reactors to operate for up to 60 years, then reactors will start being decommissioned one after another. Reaching the target nuclear power ratio in (Japan's) energy is quite a high hurdle," an official at one major power company commented.


(Japanese original by Atsuko Motohashi, Sendai Bureau; Takayuki Hakamada, Business News Department; and Riki Iwama, Science & Environment News Department)




October 25, 2018


Utility plans to scrap reactor at Onagawa plant




Tohoku Electric Power Company has told Miyagi Prefecture that it is going to decommission an aging reactor at its Onagawa nuclear power plant.

The 3 reactors at the plant in northeastern Japan have been offline since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The utility's president, Hiroya Harada, conveyed its decision to Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai on Thursday.

Harada explained that additional safety steps would create technical difficulties as the No.1 reactor is more than 30 years old. The measures are required under government regulations that were introduced after the 2011 disaster.

Murai asked Tohoku Electric Power to put top priority on safety in scrapping the reactor as the work is expected to take a long time. The governor also asked the utility to properly disclose information and maintain stable power supplies.

The utility hopes to put the 2 other reactors back into operation. The No.2 reactor is being checked by the nuclear regulator, and the firm is preparing to apply for an inspection of the No.3 reactor.

Utilities have decided to decommission 10 reactors at 7 plants, including Onagawa, since the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. They cite the huge cost of additional safety measures. These figures do not include the all 6 reactors at Fukushima Daiichi.


See also:

Tohoku Electric to scrap aging No. 1 unit at Onagawa nuclear plant




SENDAI – Tohoku Electric Power Co. said Thursday it will scrap the idled No. 1 unit at its Onagawa nuclear power plant in Miyagi Prefecture, more than 30 years after it started operations. [...]

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