OSAKA (Kyodo) -- Shikoku Electric Power Co. plans to give up restarting the No. 1 reactor of its Ikata nuclear complex in western Japan and scrap it because extending the aging unit's lifespan would be hugely expensive, company sources said Friday.
Shikoku Electric's plan could have an impact on other major utilities as they decide whether to seek to keep their aging reactors operable beyond the 40-year time limit, a rule imposed after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster.
The regional utility serving the main island of Shikoku is expected to announce the plan as early as later in the morning.
Stricter government regulations set in 2013 following the Fukushima nuclear crisis prohibit the operation of nuclear reactors beyond 40 years in principle. But operation for an additional 20 years is possible if operators make safety upgrades and pass the regulator's screening.
Around the country, five reactors at four other nuclear power plants that are around 40 years old are already set to be scrapped.
The No. 1 reactor at the Ikata power complex in Ikata, Ehime Prefecture, reaches the 40-year time limit next year. If the utility wants to continue operating the reactor, it needs to apply for an extension to the Nuclear Regulation Authority in advance.
Shikoku Electric has determined that decommissioning the unit is better than seeking to extend its lifespan as it expects safety measures to keep the reactor in use would cost over 100 billion yen ($886 million), the sources said.
The utility, meanwhile, plans to restart the newer No. 3 reactor at the three-reactor plant in July.
March 23, 2016
Ikata plant to apply for restart in July
The operator of the Ikata nuclear power plant in Ehime Prefecture, western Japan, is planning to apply to restart one of its reactors in July.
The No.3 reactor at Shikoku Electric Power Company's Ikata plant passed an initial inspection of its safety equipment last July. The Nuclear Regulation Authority's screening was based on new regulations introduced after the 2011 accident in Fukushima.
The regulators are now checking the detailed plans of the equipment for quake resistance and other functions.
They are expected to approve these plans as early as Wednesday.
NHK has learned that Shikoku Electric is set to apply for a final inspection and aims to win approval for its schedule for the restart.
The timetable is expected to call for putting nuclear fuel in the reactor in June, and restarting it the following month.
If it passes the final inspection, the No.3 reactor at the Ikata plant would be the 5th to be put back on line, following 2 reactors at the Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture and another 2 at the Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture.
But the operation of the 2 reactors at Takahama has been suspended due to mechanical problems and a court injunction.