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Japan energy companies request restart authorisation for 18 nuclear reactors

23 May 2014

On May 20, Japan Atomic Power Co (JAPC) requested a safety review of reactor 2 at its Tokai plant in Ibaraki prefecture, bringing to 18 the number of reactors waiting for permission to restart from Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA).

Tokai 2, a 1060MWe boiling water reactor, is the oldest of the reactors to have applied for a safety review so far, having started commercial operations in 1978.

 JAPC has implemented a number of safety measures at the Tokai plant, including building an 18-metre high tsunami protection wall and installing a filtered venting system. The NRA is likely to pay particular attention to fire prevention measures at Tokai as, unlike the other plants, it was built without flameproof electric cables. However, in its application JAPC said that it will cover 18,500 metres of cables with a flame-retardant coating so that they meet the new safety standards.

Revised regulations were announced by the NRA in July 2013, which must be met before plants can secure permission to restart. These set out essential requirements enabling plants to respond to a variety of natural phenomena as well as establishing new measures to mitigate the effects of severe accidents, such as reactor core damage caused by beyond design basis events.

At launch, the regulatory process for restart was hoped to take about six months, but the first applications were submitted in July last year and it is still not clear when the initial units might restart.

The process was further delayed on May 21 when a court in Fukui prefecture ruled against allowing Kansai Electric Power Co to restart reactors  3 and 4 at its Ohi nuclear plant. These were thought to be amongst the most likely to have been granted early permission to restart.

The utility said in a statement  it would appeal against the decision.

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