2 more nuclear reactors effectively clear regulator's safety review
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's nuclear authority on Wednesday paved the way for the restarting of more reactors, effectively determining that two units at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Oi plant on the Sea of Japan coast have met the country's post-Fukushima safety standards.
The number of reactors that have met the standards, adopted after the 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, reached 12 at six power stations. After soliciting public opinion, the Nuclear Regulation Authority is expected to give its final approval as early as April, officials said.
Ahead of the planned restart as early as this summer of the Oi plant's No. 3 and 4 reactors in Fukui Prefecture, Kansai Electric is expected to take disaster-prevention measures, including construction of a wall to protect against tsunami by May. The operator still needs to obtain local approval.
Kansai Electric said it hopes to proceed with the remaining review process "sincerely and promptly." All of the nuclear reactors that Kansai Electric hopes to restart will have passed the regulator's screening.
Most of the country's nuclear reactors remain offline amid safety concerns among local residents. The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been promoting the restart of nuclear reactors.
Kansai Electric has been seeking to bring the two reactors at the Oi plant back online since July 2013 when Japan adopted stricter safety standards. But it has taken time to assess seismic motions that could affect the reactors.
In June, seismologist Kunihiko Shimazaki, who was one of the five commissioners of the NRA, warned that the regulator may have underestimated the biggest potential earthquake around the Oi plant.
The NRA, however, concluded that there was no need to change the estimate after a recalculation.
In Fukui, two reactors at Kansai Electric's Takahama plant were brought back online last year after clearing the safety requirements, but faced a court injunction in connection with safety issues and there are no clear prospects for their restart.