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Japan-Update

Restart delayed for Kyushu Electric's nuclear reactors

Screening fell behind, causing domino effect for Japanese utility

FUKUOKA -- The anticipated restart of two nuclear reactors in southwestern Japan looks to be postponed from fall to winter, with the possibility of being pushed back even further to next year.

The Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at Kyushu Electric Power's Genkai nuclear facility, deactivated following the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster, were on track to come online this fall, after passing the Nuclear Regulation Authority's safety tests in January.

But safety screening for reactor designs dragged on, delaying the projected approval from July to around September. This was largely due to newly added testing in such areas as seismic standards of pipes, which Kyushu Electric incorporated in its amended outline for the regulators submitted Tuesday. Since four months or so are typically required for the subsequent procedures, operations likely will not resume until winter at the earliest.

By restarting the reactors, Kyushu Electric hoped to slash its monthly fuel costs by 9 billion yen ($81.4 million). But the actual cost savings will only be about half of its estimates, factoring in write-offs of added equipment for earthquake resistance among other items, President Michiaki Uriu says.

Furthermore, the delayed resumption is expected to cut into Kyushu Electric's earnings by several billion yen. But the utility will still aim for a third straight year of black ink by reducing costs in its fossil-fuel power plants.

(Nikkei)

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