Official: 40-year cap would remain in most cases

Reactor life spans may run 60 years


Following a planned revision of regulations, nuclear reactors could remain in operation for up to 60 years, the government, which is currently crafting atomic safety bills for the upcoming Diet session, said Tuesday.

Under the new legislation, utilities would be allowed to operate a reactor for 40 years, beginning from the day it passed preoperation inspections. But if approved by the government, a one-time extension of no more than 20 years would be allowed.

In the approval process, the government would examine the degree of obsolescence of the facility and the operator’s technological ability to maintain it.

Government officials said utilities would be required to clear “tough standards,” but details have yet to be made public.

Commenting on the maximum 20-year extension, one government official said he believes that period is “appropriate when considering the global trend” as seen, for example, in the U.S.

But he added the life span of a reactor would still basically be 40 years and approved extensions would be “exceptional” cases.

In announcing the 40-year limit plan earlier this month, nuclear disaster minister Goshi Hosono said extension OKs would be “very rare” under the envisioned regulatory reinforcement.