Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Tuesday it will file a request with the Nuclear Regulation Authority to restart two idled reactors in Niigata Prefecture after new safety regulations take effect next Monday.
To restart their reactors, most of which are now offline, utilities first need to have the NRA confirm that their facilities satisfy the new safety requirements, which were compiled in light of the Fukushima nuclear crisis that started in 2011. Four other utilities are also expected to get the ball rolling next week.
Tepco released a statement saying it will “promptly” apply for the NRA safety assessment to restart the reactors 6 and 7 at the massive Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.
Tepco also said its officials hope to visit Niigata Prefecture “as early as possible” to explain the application, while acknowledging that winning local approval won’t be easy as Niigata Gov. Hirohiko Izumida has indicated his reluctance.
Restarting the seven-reactor plant is seen as key to improving the struggling utility’s business conditions by reducing its spending on costly fossil fuel imports for thermal power generation.
Tepco also needs massive funds to pay compensation related to the Fukushima No. 1 power plant disaster and to scrap the crippled reactors there.
Tepco has three nuclear plants, but the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa complex — the world’s largest nuclear power plant with a combined output capacity of 8.2 gigawatts — is the only one that wasn’t affected directly by the 2011 natural disasters.