20 Avril 2016
April 20, 2016
Two nuclear reactors at the Takahama plant on the Sea of Japan coast have become the first reactors aiming to operate beyond 40 years to pass Japan's nuclear authority's new regulations introduced after the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Under a system also introduced after the 2011 accident, the lifespan of reactors across Japan has been limited to 40 years in principle.
Reactors aged 40 years old or more need to meet the assessment regulations of the Nuclear Regulation Authority and other conditions as part of the process for gaining permission to extend operations.
On Wednesday, the authority officially decided to pass a screening document saying the Number 1 and 2 reactors at the Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture have met the regulations. The reactors are currently offline.
Earlier in February, the nuclear regulator judged that fire prevention measures on electric cables -- a problem unique to older reactors -- and other revised measures met the regulations. They effectively approved the draft screening document at that time.
Wednesday's approval session came after a 30-day period of soliciting public opinions on the document, which is a necessary process in the assessment. It was reported at the session that some of the opinions said the draft underestimated the size of possible quakes and also criticized the fact that actual tests on improved electric cables had been put off.
The session unanimously approved the draft with some revisions, without changing its conclusion.
Attention is now focused on whether the reactors can clear remaining conditions and gain approval for the extension by the time limit of July 7th.
The remaining conditions include checks on deterioration at the facility and an assessment of detailed plans on quake resistance.
The operator, Kansai Electric Power Company, says putting the reactors back online will take more than 3 years, due to the need for more safety work.