TOKYO -- Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority appears set to certify the safety of two units at Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings key nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast.
Passing the safety review is a prerequisite for Tepco to restart the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, which has been idle since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami prompted rigorous safety assessments of all domestic facilities.
However, Niigata Gov. Ryuichi Yoneyama remains wary about firing up the boiling water reactors, the same type used in the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, also operated by Tepco. As of now, Tepco has no prospects of winning local consent.
The nuclear watchdog has already completed discussions of the technical aspects of the safety review on units 6 and 7. When it meets next Wednesday, it will focus on the reliability of Tepco itself, including the safety culture inside the company and the attitude of its management team.
A group from the agency including Chairman Shunichi Tanaka visited the area of the nuclear facility at the end of July, and their findings will be addressed in the discussions. After the regulator confirms Tepco's commitment to safety at a regular meeting Wednesday, it will draft a document within the month that will serve as a safety certificate.
Tanaka is stepping down Sept. 18 at the end of his term as chairman, and he wants some kind of closure on the safety assessment by that time. Tepco applied for safety assessments on the Nos. 6 and 7 reactors of the power plant in September 2013.