Reactors’ 30-year age limit stands for now: NRA

Kyodo

Citing the introduction of new regulations in July, the Nuclear Regulation Authority said Wednesday it will not accept applications from utilities seeking permission to run their reactors beyond 30 years under existing procedures.

To address concerns about aging reactors, nuclear plant operators have been asked to conduct safety assessments of reactors that are set to operate beyond 30 years and compile a 10-year maintenance plan in seeking an extension.

But the NRA, which debuted just last September, is in the process of overhauling the country’s nuclear regulations in light of the Fukushima No. 1 plant meltdown catastrophe that started in 2011. It plans to require existing reactors to clear the new safety standards once the rules come into force.

“We want utilities to wait to submit the applications,” NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said during a meeting of his colleagues, also noting the need to discuss details of a new regulation that the country has decided to introduce, limiting the reactors’ operation to 40 years in principle.

The latest development comes as applications to extend operations of four reactors, including the No. 1 units at Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s Shimane plant and Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai plant, must be submitted by July.

None of the reactors is currently online.

Tepco unveils footage

Tokyo Electric Power Co. unveiled 312 hours of video Wednesday documenting in-house teleconferences after the disaster started at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, including footage of the plant chief calling for the prevention of radiation exposure.

The footage covers meetings from March 23 to 30 and April 6 to 12, 2011.

Tepco has already unveiled 486 hours of footage, and the latest move represents the disclosure of almost all video of the meetings in the month following the meltdowns.

The new footage includes in-house exchanges concerning radiation exposure of three workers at the turbine building of reactor 3 on March 24. Two of the workers’ feet were heavily exposed.

Faces and voices of Tepco officials in the images have been blurred because the utility claims there is a need to protect their privacy. News organizations have sought full disclosure, arguing this is necessary to properly examine whether the utility dealt with the disaster appropriately.