1 Juillet 2012
July 1, 2012
Ohi nuclear reactor back online
A reactor at the Ohi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan, is back online for the first time in 15 months.
The operator, Kansai Electric Power Company, began lifting the control rods of the Ohi plant's No.3 reactor at 9 PM on Sunday.
Senior Vice Industry Minister Seishu Makino and Ohi Town Mayor Shinobu Tokioka were at the site to watch the resumption.
The reactor is the first to resume operation in Japan since early May. All 50 of the country's reactors had been offline following the accident in March last year at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
KEPCO said the fission chain reaction in the reactor is expected to reach criticality around 6 AM on Monday.
The reactor will start generating power on Wednesday and operate at full capacity 4 days later.
The utility has been preparing for the restart since June 16th. Nine minor problems were reported, but the utility says the reactor is not affected by them. It says it found no problem in its final review at 3:30 PM.
The central and Fukui prefectural governments have stationed officials at the Ohi plant to monitor the reactor around the clock.
FUKUI (Kyodo) -- A reactor at the Oi nuclear power plant in western Japan will become late Sunday the first in the country to be reactivated after regular checkups since last year's Fukushima nuclear crisis, bringing an end to the situation since early May in which Japan has had no operating reactors and easing power constraints.
Kansai Electric Power Co. said it plans to pull out control rods that have contained fission reactions from 9 p.m. at the No. 3 reactor of the plant in Fukui Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast. It aims to attain a sustained nuclear fission chain reaction, known as criticality, early Monday, begin power transmission Wednesday, and bring it to full operation possibly July 8.
Although a growing group of protestors has blocked a road leading to the plant since Saturday, preventing workers' access, the utility serving western Japan expects there will be no impact on Sunday's work as it has already secured enough workers for the job, officials said.
Once the 1.18 million kilowatt reactor runs at full capacity, the utility will likely see its projected power shortage in its service area fall to 9.2 percent from 14.9 percent this summer.
Following government approval June 16, it is also preparing to reboot the plant's No. 4 reactor to put it back into full service possibly in late July.
Senior Vice Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Seishu Makino is set to witness Sunday's work as part of the government's efforts to enhance monitoring of the plant's resumption amid lingering public concerns about nuclear safety in the wake of the meltdowns of three reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant in northeastern Japan.
A series of minor troubles has haunted preparations to restart the plant, however, with alarms activated at such locations as a place where the plant receives external power supply and equipment used to monitor power transmission lines.