National

Tepco contemplates 2019 restart for giant Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant

Kyodo

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. is planning to restart operations at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture in stages from April 2019, sources said.

Tepco is considering reopening four of the seven reactors at the plant over a roughly three-year period through May 2021. The utility will present the proposed schedule in a restructuring plan due to be submitted to the government, possibly by the end of the month, the sources said.

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa complex is the world’s largest nuclear plant by capacity when all seven units are in online. The boiling-water reactors are the same type as those hit by core meltdowns at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 plant in 2011.

Tepco hopes the restart will help stabilize its finances as it deals with up to ¥22 trillion ($202 billion) in decommissioning and compensation costs from the Fukushima disaster.

But it’s unclear whether Tepco will be able to go forward with the plan, because Niigata Gov. Ryuichi Yoneyama is wary of restarting the reactors. He says it will take several years to complete an assessment of the Fukushima disaster and that it should be integral to discussions on the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

According to the sources, Tepco, which was effectively nationalized in the wake of the nuclear crisis, is likely to present two scenarios in the restructuring plan: One for rebooting four reactors and one for rebooting all seven.

Under the four-unit plan, Tepco intends to first restart reactors 6 and 7, which are being scrutinized by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. Unit 7 would resume from April 2019 and unit 6 the following May.

Reactor 1 would be set for restart in April 2021, with unit 5 following the next month, the sources said.

Under the alternative scenario, the remaining three units would be brought back online, although a specific time frame for each reactor has yet to be fixed, the sources said.