29 Janvier 2016
January 29, 2016
Jan. 29, 2016 - Updated 09:56 UTC+1
A third nuclear reactor in Japan has been restarted under tougher government regulations introduced after the catastrophic 2011 Fukushima accident.
Kansai Electric Power Company on Friday evening reactivated the Number 3 reactor at the Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture on the Japan Sea coast by removing control rods.
If everything goes according to plan, the reactor will achieve a self-sustaining chain reaction on Saturday morning and start generating electricity on Monday.
The operator says it will closely monitor whether the equipment is functioning properly because the reactor was offline for almost 4 years. It aims to resume commercial operations in late February.
The Number 3 and Number 4 reactors at the Takahama plant passed screenings by the Nuclear Regulation Authority under the new regulations in February last year.
The operator plans to use what is known as MOX fuel, a mixture of plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel and uranium. The reactor would be the first to use MOX fuel under the new regulations.
Two reactors at the Sendai nuclear plant in the southwestern prefecture of Kagoshima went back online last year.
By HIROKI ITO/ Staff Writer
TAKAHAMA, Fukui Prefecture--Takahama nuclear power plant’s No. 3 reactor here was restarted on Jan. 29, becoming the third reactor to go back online under stricter safety regulations following the Fukushima disaster in 2011.
At 5 p.m., workers at the plant's control room pulled a lever that removed control rods to reboot the reactor. It is expected to reach criticality by around 6 a.m. on Jan. 30.
The reactor at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s plant should begin commercial operations in late February following test operations planned to start on Feb. 1.
Located in a densely populated region with Japan’s largest concentration of nuclear reactors, it is the first plutonium-thermal (pluthermal) reactor to be restarted under the new Nuclear Regulation Authority regulations.
It uses mixed oxide (MOX) fuel, which contains plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel, and its restart marks a step forward in the government’s troubled nuclear fuel cycle project.
Shikoku Electric Power Co. also plans to use MOX fuel at the No. 3 reactor at the Ikata nuclear power plant in Ehime Prefecture, which is currently in the final stage of the screening for restart.
The area around Wakasa Bay, where the Takahama plant is located, hosts 14 nuclear reactors, and about 180,000 people reside in 12 municipalities of Fukui, Kyoto and Shiga prefectures within a 30-kilometer radius of the plant.
Kansai Electric also plans to reboot the No. 4 reactor at the plant in late February to restart commercial power generation in late March at the earliest.
The first two reactor restarts under the NRA’s stricter safety rules were the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear power plant in Satsuma-Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture.
They resumed operations in August and October last year after being cleared by the NRA.