An idled nuclear reactor owned by Shikoku Electric Power Co. cleared safety screenings by the industry regulator on Wednesday, paving the way for its restart as early as July.
The No. 3 unit of the Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture will likely become the nation’s fifth unit to be reactivated under new standards introduced in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. However, it has yet to pass on-site pre-operational checks and a court case adds an element of uncertainty.
Last year, the reactor passed a key screening by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. Local governments have also assented to its restart — a further hurdle cleared.
Shikoku Electric will apply for an on-site NRA inspection as early as Thursday. It will take around four months for the facilities and equipment to be inspected.
However, uncertainty remains over the restart in the form of a lawsuit filed this month by plaintiffs who include survivors of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
A landmark court ruling this month ordered Kansai Electric Power Co. to suspend two reactors at its Takahama nuclear plant, citing safety concerns. Those units had been restarted this year.
All of Japan’s reactors were taken offline after the Fukushima crisis. But four of them, including the two Takahama units, have been reactivated since last year under the new safety regulations. Presently none of the Takahama reactors are online.