Although tighter nuclear safety standards will be implemented Monday, none of the nation’s 10 atomic power plant operators is planning to retire any reactors other than those already destined for the scrap heap, a survey showed Saturday.
Due to the huge costs of meeting the new regulations drawn up in light of the Fukushima meltdowns in 2011, the operators had been expected to designate more aging reactors for decommissioning. But some of the operators are even planning to apply for permission to continue running reactors beyond the maximum 40-year limit, the Jiji Press survey found.
Japan’s 50 commercial reactors are operated by nine regional utilities and Japan Atomic Power Co. Of this total, seven units are in the process of being dismantled, including reactors 1 to 4 at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power station.
The operators’ reluctance to retire reactors is apparently due to the sky-high decommissioning costs, which are estimated at around ¥55 billion for a 1.1 million kw unit.
The operators would thus have to book huge impairment losses if they decided to scrap more reactors. The oldest reactor in the nation, unit 1 at Japan Atomic Power’s Tsuruga plant in Fukui Prefecture, would cost a projected ¥23 billion to dismantle.
“Generally, older reactors have higher risks,” said Hideyuki Ban, co-director of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center.
“If power firms put off decommissioning reactors to secure short-term profits and avoid (massive) losses, that could see the recurrence of a (major) nuclear accident,” he warned.