Regulators to inspect Japan’s sole operating reactors on June 15

Kyodo

The Nuclear Regulation Authority will conduct an onsite inspection June 15 of the only nuclear reactors now operating in Japan to check whether they are safe enough to be allowed to continue operating beyond July when new safety requirements take effect, sources close to the matter said Saturday.

About 20 inspectors, including NRA Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa, will examine equipment such as an air-cooled power generator for emergency use and water pump newly installed at the No. 3 and 4 reactors at the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture to respond to a severe accident.

The new requirements have been compiled to enhance nuclear regulation in the wake of the devastating accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011, triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March that year.

The NRA has asked the operator of the Oi nuclear plant, Kansai Electric Power Co., to take safety measures by assuming several severe accident scenarios, such reactor core meltdowns and damage to reactor containers.

Kansai Electric has told the NRA that it plans to use a 108-sq.-meter meeting room next to the No. 3 and 4 reactor control room as an emergency command center if needed to deal with serious accidents. Fuketa said he plans to check whether the meeting room has enough space to function as a command center in contingencies.

The nuclear safety body will also look into whether any active fault runs under the Oi plant on the Sea of Japan coast.

Following the onsite inspection, the NRA will decide later this month whether the Oi plant meets the new safety requirements.

If the authority acknowledges that the two reactors have no serious safety problems, they will be allowed to continue operating through September, when they will have to undergo mandatory routine checkups.

Operators of reactors now shutdown will have to wait for the requirements to come into force before applying to restart.