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

Beyond the 40-year limit for the first time

February 24, 2016

Nuclear watchdog gives nod on safety to two aging reactors for first time

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201602240072

 

By MASANOBU HIGASHIYAMA/ Staff Writer

For the first time, Japan's nuclear watchdog has disclosed that two aging nuclear reactors in operation for more than their basic lifespan of 40 years have passed the new safety standards set after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

The No. 1 and No. 2 reactors of the Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture could now have their operations extended for a further 20 years as the Nuclear Regulation Authority made the announcement on Feb. 24.

To extend the operational lives of the two reactors, operator Kansai Electric Power Co. must receive NRA approval by July on three outstanding items--safety measures, detailed designs and extension of operations.

This is the fourth time the NRA has acknowledged that nuclear reactors are meeting the new safety standards, but the first time for those that are at least 40 years old.

The other three cases were the No. 1 and the No. 2 reactors at the Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co.; the No. 3 and the No. 4 reactors at the Takahama plant; and the No. 3 rector at Ikata nuclear power plant in Ehime Prefecture, operated by Shikoku Electric Power Co.

After the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011, laws on nuclear safety were revised. As a result, it was stipulated that the operation period of nuclear reactors is a basic 40 years but that can be extended by up to 20 years--but just one time--with NRA approval.

Although the No. 1 and the No. 2 reactors at the Takahama plant have been operating for more than 40 years, it is a transitional measure until July as Kansai Electric Power has yet to obtain NRA approval for a 20-year extension.

In March 2015, the utility asked to be screened by the NRA to ensure it was meeting the new safety standards. In April 2015, it applied for an additional 20 years for each reactor.

The NRA has been conducting intensive screenings on the reactors because if Kansai Electric Power cannot obtain approval on safety measures, detailed designs and extension of operations by the July deadline, it will have to decommission the two reactors.

In the safety screenings, the main focus was on fire-prevention measures with regard to electric cables. The No. 1 and No. 2 reactors were using cables totaling 1,300 kilometers in length, but they were not fire-retardant.

The utility responded by replacing 60 percent of them with fire-retardant cables, and wrapping the remaining 40 percent with fire-retardant sheets. This met with NRA approval.

With regard to earthquake and tsunami resistance, the utility used the same levels as those for the No. 3 and the No. 4 reactors at Takahama plant, both of which had already been approved by the NRA as meeting the new safety standards.

The NRA devoted 389 pages of the screening paper to its opinion that the No. 1 and the No. 2 reactors at Takahama are meeting the new safety standards. The NRA will collect opinions from the public about its conclusions for 30 days from Feb. 25 and then formally decide whether the two reactors are meeting the new standards on safety measures.

At the same time, it will go ahead with screenings on the remaining two items--detailed designs and the extension of operations. The screening on the detailed designs will focus on quake-resistant capabilities of important facilities. The screening on the extension of operation will check on the deterioration of facilities.

Even if Kansai Electric Power obtains approval on all of the three items, it will take about three years for the utility to finish work on safety measures. Because of that, the operations of Takahama's No. 1 and No. 2 reactors are not expected to be restarted before autumn 2019.

 

 

First reactors in Japan get tentative approval to burn for longer than 40 years

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/02/24/national/first-reactors-japan-get-tentative-approval-burn-longer-40-years/#.Vs26o-aDmot

 

Kyodo

Two aging nuclear reactors have come a step closer to being allowed to exceed their 40-year service lifetimes, in what would be the first such extensions under new safety guidelines.

On Wednesday, the Nuclear Regulation Authority reported that safety systems at the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors of Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture meet standards. The decision will be finalized after soliciting comments from the public.

However, the reactors must clear further hurdles before they can resume operation — in the form of further permission from the regulator.

The clock is ticking. They must secure this approval by July 7 or they will be scrapped.

Tougher safety rules were imposed in the wake of the Fukushima No. 1 meltdowns. They prohibit, in principle, the operation of nuclear reactors for longer than four decades, but extensions of 20 years are allowed if operators make safety upgrades and pass screening by the regulator.

The No. 1 reactor of the Takahama complex marked 40 years of operation in November 2014 and the No. 2 reactor last November.

A total of five reactors at three plants have so far obtained final approval for restarts under the stricter safety rules, including two reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture and a reactor at the Takahama plant that have resumed operations.

 

Reactors given initial OK for restart beyond 40-yr limit for 1st time

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160224/p2g/00m/0dm/067000c

 

The Takahama Nuclear Power Plant's No. 1 and 2 reactors (from left in the front row) and No. 3 and 4 reactors (from left in the back row) are pictured in this photo taken from a Mainichi helicopter in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, on Feb. 23, 2016. (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Two aging nuclear reactors in western Japan gained initial approval Wednesday for their restart in the first such safety clearance for reactors running beyond the government-mandated 40-year service period under new rules set after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority approved safety measures taken for the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors of Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture as being in compliance with post-Fukushima regulations for their resumption. The decision will be finalized after soliciting technical comments from the public.

But it remains uncertain whether the reactors can actually resume operation, as they will also have to obtain further permissions from the regulator necessary to operate beyond the 40-year limit by July 7. Missing the deadline would mean an end to the reactors.

The new, tougher safety rules in principle prohibit the operation of nuclear reactors beyond four decades, but operation for an additional 20 years is allowed if operators make safety upgrades and pass the regulator's screening.

The No. 1 reactor of the Takahama complex marked 40 years of operation in November 2014 and the No. 2 reactor last November.

A total of five reactors at three plants have so far obtained final approval for restarts under the stricter safety rules, including two reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture and a reactor at the Takahama plant that have resumed operations.

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