Plan to add reactor at Hamaoka is on hold

Kyodo

Chubu Electric has effectively put on hold plans to build a new reactor at its now-idled Hamaoka nuclear plant in Shizuoka Prefecture as it is currently unable to specify a start date for operations, company sources said Saturday.

Chubu Electric Power Co. will not include any time frame for the new unit, construction for which has yet to begin, in a report it will submit to the government by March 31, covering its power supply plan for the 2012 business year, the sources said.

The utility has been unable to draft a detailed schedule for the envisioned reactor at a time when most utilities have shelved plans to build new units in light of the Fukushima meltdown crisis, the sources said.

The government ordered the shoreline Hamaoka complex shut down last year because of its quake-tsunami vulnerability, and plans call for an 18-meter seawall to be constructed.

In 2008, Chubu Electric announced it plans to build a sixth reactor at the Hamaoka plant and has said the new unit would start operations around 2020 in every annual report submitted to the government since then.

The utility suspended all operations at Hamaoka following an unprecedented request from the government in light of the Fukushima disaster and predictions that a magnitude 8.0 quake could strike the area by 2050.

In a similar move, Japan Atomic Power Co. plans to drop a time frame for beginning operations at two planned reactors at its nuclear plant in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, citing construction delays on their main structures, company sources said.

In February 2011, the power firm said construction of the No. 3 and 4 units would begin this month and that operations would start between 2017 and 2018.

But in view of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Japan Atomic Power in its annual power supply plan will state that the start date of operations at the two reactors has yet to be determined, the sources said.

However, Japan Atomic Power has no plans at present to revise the project, one of the sources said, noting the site for the two units already has been prepared and is ready for construction to commence.

The power company will submit its report to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry by the end of this month.

Construction of reactors 3 and 4 was originally scheduled to being in October 2010, but prolonged government quake-resistance examinations have delayed the project.