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Kansai Electric to spend $2.5 billion upgrading Japanese nuclear plants

10 April 2012

Kansai Electric Power Co will spend more than 200 billion yen ($2.5 billion) to bolster defenses at its 11 nuclear reactors against earthquakes, tsunami and other accidents, company President Makoto Yagi said on April 9.

The Japanese Government will soon decide whether Kansai Electric's Ohi nuclear plant can resume operations
The Japanese Government will soon decide whether Kansai Electric's Ohi nuclear plant can resume operations

The upgrade will take four years to complete and will include a filtered-vent system to control the release of radiation in an accident, permanent emergency back-up batteries and a quake-proof building for use as a crisis centre in emergencies.

All Kansai Electric nuclear reactors are currently shut down for stress tests following the Fukushima crisis, but Yagi is petitioning the government to allow two reactors at its Ohi plant to restart before the summer as these have passed the tests.

The company has warned that if all its reactors stay offline during summer peak power demand, cities such as Osaka and Kyoto, as well as companies such as Panasonic and Sharp, may face power shortages of up to 20%, hindering the country’s economic recovery.

Japanese Economy and Industry Minister Yukio Edano said the No. 3 and 4 reactors at the Ohi plant "more or less met our safety standards", but that officials would go over a safety checklist one more time before making a final evaluation.

Edano said the country’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency had stated that the Ohi reactors' past safety upgrades since the Fukushima crisis alone could provide enough of a safety margin to keep reactor cores from melting down, even in the event of a similar earthquake or tsunami.

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