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Kepco eyes ¥200 billion for sea walls

Kyodo

Kansai Electric Power Co. estimates that around ¥200 billion will be required to protect its nuclear plants in Fukui Prefecture from major natural disasters.

The estimate, up from an initially projected ¥70 billion, is included in an additional set of safety measures presented to the Fukui Prefectural Government, officials of the utility said Monday.

Under the measures, Kansai Electric plans to surround its nuclear plants in the towns of Mihama and Takahama with sea walls of up to 11.5 meters by the end of fiscal 2015.

The new plan includes an increase in staff to be called in when a major accident occurs and an increase in satellite-based mobile phones to secure communications during emergencies.

On Monday, Japan Atomic Power Co. and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency also presented to the Fukui Prefectural Government new safety plans for their nuclear power facilities in the prefecture facing the Sea of Japan.

The prefecture called on the three entities in October to submit additional safety measures, including those to address serious accidents, amid efforts at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant to contain the nuclear crisis triggered by the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Meanwhile, Kansai Electric President Makoto Yagi said the utility will resume operating the No. 2 thermal power generator, with a capacity of 450,000 kw, at its plant in Kainan, Wakayama Prefecture, around next summer in anticipation of a delay in the restart of nuclear reactors idled for inspections.

Insurers snub No. 1

A consortium of 23 Japanese property and casualty insurers has informed Tokyo Electric Power Co. that insurance expiring Jan. 15 on the utility’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant will not be renewed, sources said.

The damaged facility is expected to face far greater risks than other nuclear plants during the planned cleanup and decommissioning.

By law, the government insures nuclear plants against accidents caused by natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunami, and private-sector insurers cover other accidents. Tepco has received ¥120 billion in insurance money from the government for the Fukushima accident.

Private-sector insurers are reluctant to renew policies for the Fukushima plant because possible future accidents — for example during fuel rod extraction and other operations — would likely be subject to their coverage, the sources said.

Foreign insurers’ reluctance to provide reinsurance for the Fukushima plant might have also discouraged Japanese property and casualty insurers from renewing the contract, the sources said.

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