Safety panel to present view on Oi reactors soon

Kyodo

The Nuclear Safety Commission concluded on Tuesday a series of discussions with experts on the results of stress tests for two idled reactors at the Oi power plant in Fukui Prefecture and will compile its evaluation in the near future, according to commission Chairman Haruki Madarame.

If the commission approves the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency’s endorsement of Kansai Electric Power Co.’s test results on units 3 and 4, administrative procedures for the first resumption of reactors idled for scheduled maintenance and inspections since the Fukushima nuclear accident will move forward to the final stage.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and three Cabinet ministers will then judge whether to authorize the restart of the reactors after taking into account the opinions of local governments hosting the plant.

But prospects for resuming the reactors are still uncertain as the Fukui Prefectural Government is believed to be dissatisfied with the central government’s criteria.

The five-member Nuclear Safety Commission, tasked with supervising nuclear safety regulations, and outside experts have been discussing whether NISA’s endorsement last month of the stress test results for the two Oi reactors was appropriate.

After the end of the commission’s fifth meeting on the matter, Madarame said discussions have been concluded and that the commission will compile an evaluation report and release it at a date yet to be decided.

In light of heightened public concern over nuclear power, the central government introduced in July two phases of stress tests to check whether each reactor can withstand a major earthquake and tsunami.

Clearing the first stage of the stress test, which is based on a computer simulation, is a precondition for resuming reactors idled for scheduled checkups.

Officials of NISA and Kansai Electric Power attended the commission’s meetings to answer questions from commission members and experts.