• Kyodo


Japan’s nuclear authority on Wednesday effectively determined that two units at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi plant on the Sea of Japan coast have met the country’s safety standards, paving the way for the return of more reactors.

That brings the number of reactors that have met the standards, adopted after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, to 12 at six power stations. After seeking public feedback, the Nuclear Regulation Authority is expected to give its final approval as early as April, officials said.

Ahead of the planned restart of the Oi plant’s No. 3 and 4 reactors in Fukui Prefecture, which may happen as early as this summer, Kansai Electric will undertake disaster-prevention measures, including construction of a wall to protect the facilities against tsunami. The operator still needs to obtain local approval.

Kansai Electric said it intends to proceed with the remaining review process “sincerely and promptly.” All of the nuclear reactors that Kansai Electric hopes to restart will have passed the regulator’s screening.

Most of the country’s nuclear reactors remain offline amid safety concerns from local residents. The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been promoting the return of nuclear reactors.

Kansai Electric has been seeking to bring the two reactors at the Oi plant back online since July 2013 when Japan adopted stricter safety standards. The delay has been due to the time taken to assess seismic motions that could affect the reactors.

In June, seismologist Kunihiko Shimazaki, who was one of the five commissioners of the NRA, warned that the regulator may be underestimating the biggest potential earthquake around the Oi plant.

The nuclear watchdog, however, concluded that there was no need to adjust the estimate after a recalculation.

In Fukui, two reactors at Kansai Electric’s Takahama plant were brought back online last year after clearing the safety requirements.

However, they have been the subject of a court injunction relating to safety issues, putting their restart in doubt.

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