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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

NRA & the 40-year limit

June 12, 2013


Special inspections to be required for extending reactor use beyond 40-year limit




By JIN NISHIKAWA/ Staff Writer

The Nuclear Regulation Authority will require special inspections to determine if reactors can be operated beyond the 40-year limit to be implemented from July.

The inspections will be intended to ensure that the old reactors are still in operable condition before electric power companies are allowed to extend operations beyond the legal limit.

Under the revised reactor regulation law that takes effect from July, reactors can only be operated for 40 years, in principle. New safety standards for nuclear plants will also take effect from July.

However, if electric power companies want to extend operations, they will be allowed a one-time extension of, at most, 20 years.

At a June 12 NRA meeting, approval was given for regulations that establish the new conditions for allowing an extension of operations.

The conditions agreed to were that the reactors meet the most advanced regulations related to measures to deal with earthquakes, tsunami and severe accidents; and that the electric power companies report on the findings of the special inspections they carry out.

NRA officials would then confirm if those two conditions had been met before giving approval for an extension of operations.

Of the 50 reactors in Japan, three have been in operation for 40 years or more--the No. 1 reactor at the Tsuruga plant as well as the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the Mihama plant. Both plants are in Fukui Prefecture.

Those three, along with four others that will have been in operation for at least 37 years in July, will be given a three-year grace period for special inspections to determine if an extension can be allowed.

The four other reactors are the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture, the No. 1 reactor at the Shimane plant and the No. 1 reactor at the Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture.

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