Regulator warns Kansai Electric may not win approval for Mihama reactor restart

Kyodo

Nuclear regulators on Wednesday warned that Kansai Electric Power Co. may not be allowed to extend the life span of its aging nuclear reactor at the Mihama plant, saying the utility has been slow to submit information required for a safety review.

A regulation brought in after the 2011 nuclear disaster forbids, in principle, the operation of nuclear reactors for more than 40 years. However, they may be granted a 20-year life span extension if they obtain Nuclear Regulation Authority clearance.

“Under the current situation, it will be extremely difficult to give approval” for the resumption of the Mihama No. 3 reactor in Fukui Prefecture, the regulatory body’s Commissioner, Toyoshi Fuketa, told a meeting.

Kansai Electric, which relied heavily on nuclear power before the nuclear crisis, hopes to restart a total of three aging reactors, including the Mihama unit.

The Mihama reactor would need to clear screenings by the regulator of general plant safety and the soundness of its aging equipment. It would need to secure a green light by the end of November next year — or else it will be scrapped.

The screening process made progress in August, when the regulators approved tougher quake-resistance criteria set by Kansai Electric. But there has been no progress since then, as the operator has yet to prepare required materials.