JAPAN REOPENS PROCEDURES TO RESTART IDLED NUCLEAR REACTORS

12 Jul 2013 11:19
TOKYO, July 8 (Bernama) -- Japan on Monday reopened procedures to allow idled nuclear reactors to be restarted, setting new nuclear regulations that reflect lessons learned from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi power plant disaster, Xinhua news agency reported press local media as saying. While power utilities rushed to file applications with the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) for safety assessments of 10 reactors, none of them are likely to restart soon as it could take about six months for each process to finish, Kyodo News Agency said. The NRA describes the level of the nuclear regulations as the world's toughest. Kyodo said utilities may choose to give up efforts to restart some of the country's 50 commercial reactors and abandon them rather than investing in expensive safety measures. Four regional utilities filed applications for the restart of 10 reactors at five nuclear power plants in Hokkaido, Fukui, Ehime, and Kagoshima prefectures on Monday. Among those applying for restarts, reactors that could advance others include the No. 3 unit at Shikoku Electric Power Co.'s Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture, which has been found not to have geologic faults that need to be checked and has already prepared a newly required seismic-isolated emergency response centre. The regulations also stipulate reactors must have a venting system with filters that can reduce the amount of radioactive substances when pressure needs to be released from reactor containers during emergencies. However, pressurised water reactors such as the No. 3 unit at the Ikata plant are given a five-year moratorium to meet the requirement. Japan entered a period of no nuclear power time in May last year, but the government has allowed the restart of two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Oi plant in July the same year to tackle power shortage problems in summer in western Japan. No other reactors have since resumed operations. After a reactor is found to satisfy the NRA's new regulations, the operator will seek approval of locals to restart them. --BERNAMA EE