The operators of two nuclear power plants in Fukui Prefecture said Tuesday they will scrap three old reactors, the first such move since a 2013 government regulation spelled out the steps required to keep reactors running beyond their planned 40-year service life.
Kansai Electric Power Co. decided at a board meeting to decommission the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at its Mihama facility.
Japan Atomic Power Co. meanwhile decided to scrap the No. 1 reactor at its Tsuruga plant.
Kansai Electric hopes to restart its other reactors in Fukui that are around 40 years old — the No. 3 unit at Mihama and units 1 and 2 at its Takahama plant — after asking the Nuclear Regulation Authority to begin screening them.
Kansai Electric President Makoto Yagi explained the shutdown plan for the two Mihama reactors to Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa on Tuesday.
The regulation on old reactors, brought in following the March 2011 crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, prohibits keeping them active beyond a 40-year service life — though an extension of up to 20 years is possible if the operator makes safety upgrades and passes an NRA screening.
Kansai Electric had considered attempting to restart the Mihama 1 and 2 reactors but concluded that the cost were not justified given their relatively small output. Unit 1 can produce 340 megawatts while unit 2 can churn out 500 megawatts.
Chugoku Electric Power Co. and Kyushu Electric Power Co. were expected to make similar decisions at board meetings Wednesday regarding the aging No. 1 reactor at the Shimane plant in Shimane Prefecture and the No. 1 reactor at the Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture.
The four operators are expected to submit notifications of their decisions to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on Thursday.
The Abe administration has been pushing the restart of nuclear power plants shuttered in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster. By picking off aging reactors and carrying out safety screening of newer ones before resuming operations, it hopes to win over the public, which according to opinion polls remains wary.