Tokyo, Sept. 15 (Jiji Press)–Japanese regulators officially adopted on Wednesday a screening report concluding that the No. 2 reactor at the Shimane nuclear power plant in western Japan meets the country’s new safety standards for a restart.
The No. 2 unit at the nuclear plant in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, operated by Chugoku Electric Power Co. <9504>, became the 17th reactor in the country that has passed the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety screenings.
The NRA examines the safety of nuclear reactors based on strict standards that Japan introduced after the March 2011 triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s <9501> tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
The Shimane No. 2 reactor became the fifth boiling-water reactor in Japan to win restart approval since the disaster hit reactors of the same type at the Fukushima plant, after the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors at TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture, central Japan.
Chugoku Electric aims to complete seismic reinforcement and other works for the Shimane reactor by the end of March next year. It is unclear, however, when the company can gain consent from local governments for reactivating the reactor.
The power supplier applied for safety screenings for the Shimane No. 2 unit in December 2013. During its screenings, the NRA focused on the company’s earthquake and tsunami estimates.
Chugoku Electric reviewed its evaluation of the Shinji fault located some 2 kilometers south of the plant and raised the assumed ground acceleration that could be caused by an earthquake to 820 gals from 600 gals.
Also, the estimated maximum tsunami height was changed from 9.5 meters to 11.9 meters, which the company says can be blocked by the plant’s seawall of 15 meters above sea level.
It came to light in June this year that Chugoku Electric had discarded by mistake classified documents about antiterrorism facilities borrowed from the NRA and had failed to report the problem for about six years.
While noting that the document discarding should be taken as a sign of a deterioration of safety culture at Chugoku Electric, NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa said Wednesday, “We’ll be conducting checks including on whether improvements have been made through maintenance code-related inspections” that will follow the adoption of the safety screening report.
The Shimane plant is the only nuclear power plant in the country located in a prefectural capital.
Evacuation plans are drawn up for residents living in areas within 30 kilometers from nuclear plants to prepare for possible severe accidents. Covered by the Shimane plant’s evacuation plan, which was approved by the government’s Nuclear Emergency Preparedness Council on Sept. 7, are some 460,000 people living in Matsue, Izumo and two other cities in Shimane, as well as Sakaiminato and Yonago, which are cities in the adjacent Tottori Prefecture.