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First inspection conducted on aging nuclear reactors

  • 2015-04-03 15:00:00
  • , Mainichi
  • Translation

(Mainichi: April 3, 2015 – p. 2)

 

 The Nuclear Regulatory Commission held on April 2 the first meeting of the safety inspection for the resumption of operations at Kansai Electric Power Co., Inc.’s Takahama Nuclear Plant Reactor No. 1 and No. 2 and Mihama Nuclear Plant Reactor No. 3 (both located in Fukui Prefecture). The plant operator is aiming to extend the operational duration of these reactors beyond 40 years. This is the first time for the commission to conduct safety inspections on “aging nuclear reactors” that have applied for extensions of the 40 years maximum operational duration set forth by the regulation.

 

 The Takahama plant’s Reactor No. 1 has been in operation for 40 years, Reactor No. 2 for 39 years, and the Mihama plant’s Reactor No. 3 for 38 years. The operational duration for such aging rectors that have been in operation for 40 years or longer can be extended up to 20 years only once if they pass the safety inspection and “the special inspection” that is designed to check the level of deterioration of the nuclear reactor’s equipment as required by the new regulation standard.

 

 One of the points that these inspections will focus on is fire countermeasures. As the cables used in the three reactors are flammable, the Kansai electric company is planning to proceed with the extension plan by applying a fireproof coating to the cables, but the commission has raised the question of “whether the fireproof coating is as effective as fireproof cables.”

 

 The Takahama plant’s Reactors No. 3 and No. 4 passed the inspections on the premise that Reactors No. 1 and No. 2 will not be restarted. If Reactors No. 1 and No. 2 are to be restarted, the commission will need to take into consideration the possibility of an accident involving all four reactors at the same time. Regarding that point, the commission said “the inspection will be stringent.”

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