• Kyodo

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Two more reactors at the Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture are expected to clear safety screening by regulators in the near future, but hurdles remain for them to restart, sources said Thursday.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority almost concluded the safety screening Thursday, and reactors 1 and 2 of the plant operated by Kansai Electric Power Co. are expected to become the first units over 40 years old to clear screening, the sources said.

Under Japan’s new safety rules, the operation of such old reactors is prohibited in principle, but they can be allowed to continue operating for up to 20 more years with safety clearances from the NRA.

Located on the Sea of Japan coast, reactor 1 of the Takahama complex marked 40 years of operation in November 2014 and reactor 2 did likewise last November.

The two reactors are expected to clear the regular safety screening. But they will also have to go through a separate screening by July 7 to operate beyond 40 years.

It is still unknown when the reactors can resume operation, as they also need to gain approval for some facility designs, as required by the new safety regulations, set after the 2011 Fukushima disaster started.

A total of five reactors at three plants have so far cleared screening under the stricter safety rules, including three that have resumed operations at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture as well as at the Takahama plant.

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