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What about Ikata?

March 19, 2012


Ikata nuclear plant likely to pass safety test




Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency is to endorse the results of an initial safety stress test on an idled reactor at a nuclear power plant in Ehime Prefecture, western Japan.

The government agency is set to report to the Nuclear Safety Commission that the so-called stress test on the No. 3 reactor at Ikata nuclear plant of Shikoku Electric Power Company was carried out appropriately.

Stress testing nuclear reactors is a new method of assuring their safety. The government mandated the tests to obtain the consent of local residents to resume the operation of a suspended reactor after a regular checkup.

The Nuclear and Industrial Agency has so far received from power companies the results of the first-stage stress tests on 16 reactors, and is assessing the results.

On Monday, the agency met with nuclear experts to examine the results of the test on the No. 3 reactor at the Ikata plant.

In the meeting, the agency said the necessary measures have been taken at the Ikata to prevent a disaster like the one at Fukushima Daiichi.

Some participants said discussions are not complete and called for more talks on the many factors that could result in a serious nuclear accident.

But the agency concluded the discussions, saying it has looked into all aspects as required at this point.

It said it would soon submit its final assessment that the stress test was carried out appropriately.

The stress testing at the Ikata plant is the nation's second, the first being on 2 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Company's Ohi plant in Fukui Prefecture.

The safety commission is undertaking a final examination of the results of the stress tests at the Ohi plant. The government will decide whether to give the green light to restarting the 2 Ohi reactors on the basis of the commission's judgment.



March 20, 2012

Nuclear agency to approve Ikata reactor's initial stress test soon



TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency decided Monday to sign off on the results of an initial stress test on an idled nuclear reactor at the Ikata power plant in the near future, a move that would make it the third reactor to have cleared a key step for resuming operation.

The agency said in a revised draft report that it has confirmed through the test that the plant operator Shikoku Electric Power Co. has taken sufficient measures to prevent the reactor from getting into a situation similar to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, even if it is hit by an earthquake and tsunami like the one that occurred in Japan's northeast a year ago.

Once the agency finalizes the report, the Nuclear Safety Commission, the five-member state body tasked with supervising the government's nuclear safety regulations, will check the adequacy of the agency's evaluation on the stress test on the No. 3 unit of the Ikata reactor in Ehime Prefecture, western Japan.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and three ministers concerned are then to judge whether to authorize the restart of the reactor.

The government mandated the two-stage stress test following the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant. Clearing the first stage of the computer simulation-based test is a precondition for reopening reactors that have been idled for scheduled checkups.

Only two of Japan's 54 reactors are online as many of them, including the No. 3 unit of the Ikata plant, remain idled for the routine checkup stipulated for Japanese reactors every 13 months.

The remaining two reactors -- the No. 6 reactor at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture and the No. 3 reactor at Hokkaido Electric Power Co.'s Tomari plant in Hokkaido -- will also be suspended by early May for routine checkups.

Shikoku Electric originally reported that the No. 3 reactor at the Ikata plant is capable of withstanding an earthquake 1.86 times stronger than the most powerful quake required to be taken into account under the safety criterion. But the utility later lowered the figure to 1.5, as some facilities' quake resistance was found to have been weaker than previously thought.

The two reactors that have already won the agency's approval on their stress test results are the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Oi plant in Fukui Prefecture.

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