Two idled Kepco reactors to get safety OK next week


Two more idled nuclear reactors, in Fukui Prefecture, are set to obtain safety clearance from regulators, sources said, giving another boost to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to revive atomic power following the 2011 triple meltdown at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 plant.

Reactors 3 and 4 at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama nuclear plant will follow two reactors operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co. in meeting with the country’s tighter safety requirements, which were imposed after the Fukushima meltdowns, moving a step closer to resuming operation.

The sources said Tuesday that the Nuclear Regulation Authority is set to approve on Feb. 12 a final report concluding that the two Takahama units comply with the new safety requirements, after Kansai Electric boosted safety measures against possible hazards at the plant.

But it will likely take at least a few more months before the reactors can go back online, given the operator still needs to obtain local approvals and undergo more procedures, including on-site operational checks.

All of Japan’s 48 commercial reactors were gradually taken offline after the start of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, the worst such disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Passing the NRA’s safety screening is the initial requirement for resumption.

A pair of reactors at Kyushu Electric’s Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture became the first to meet the new regulations in September. Local municipalities have already given the green light to their resumption, but the units still remain offline as Kyushu Electric is behind schedule for finishing all necessary procedures.

In the case of the Takahama reactors, the process of resumption may not go as smoothly as the utility hopes, partly because some nearby municipalities are demanding more say in the approval process.