25 Juin 2013
June 24, 2013
Nuclear authority to allow 2 reactors to run
Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority is set to allow the only 2 reactors remaining online in the country to continue operation.
Experts from the authority have been inspecting the reactors at the Ohi nuclear plant, in central Japan, to see if they can satisfy severe accident guidelines that take effect in early July.
Before the 2011 earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, utilities were allowed to decide for themselves whether to implement such precautionary measures. This was owing to a wide-spread belief that such an accident was unlikely in Japan.
At a meeting on Monday, the experts discussed improvements that the operator, Kansai Electric Power Company, has proposed for its draft plan for the plant.
These include enhancing video conferencing equipment at a tentative emergency command center, and improving the ability to pump in sea water to cool reactors.
The operator said it will complete the improvements by the end of this month.
Officials at the authority had presented the draft report for the plant last week. It says there is no immediate threat to the safety of the reactors. The experts approved that plan with the improvements.
The authority is expected to allow the reactors to continue operating through to September, when they will go down for regular maintenance.
The new guidelines stipulate that plant operators must set up an emergency command center that is strong enough to withstand earthquakes, tsunamis and radiation in a worst-case scenario.
They also require operators to install "filter vents" for boiling-water type reactors similar to those at the stricken Fukushima plant. The vents can ease pressure in containment vessels by releasing gases after filtering out most of radioactive substances.
Plant operators must also prepare cooling measures for situations where there is an attack by aircraft. The guidelines also call for replacing power cables with non-flammable types.