National

Tepco to consider decommissioning Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant

Kyodo

The president of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. said Thursday the utility is considering decommissioning the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant, which is located near the disaster-stricken No. 1 complex in the Tohoku prefecture.

In a meeting with Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori, Tepco President Tomoaki Kobayakawa said the company is leaning toward scrapping all four nuclear reactors at the plant.

The Fukushima No. 2 nuclear facility is located about 12 kilometers south of the Fukushima No. 1 plant, which was crippled by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

“If (the status of the No. 2 complex) is left uncertain, it would hamper reconstruction,” of the disaster-hit area, Kobayakawa said.

The Fukushima No. 2 complex was also hit by tsunami in the 2011 disaster and temporarily lost reactor-cooling capabilities. But meltdowns were prevented, unlike at the Fukushima No. 1 plant. The reactors have been offline since the disaster.

Kobayakawa said he hopes to help ease the concerns of local residents by decommissioning the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 plants together.

Uchibori said, “Decommissioning is strongly desired by Fukushima residents.”

Tepco had already decided to scrap the Fukushima No. 1 plant, which suffered core meltdowns at three of its six reactors. Shuttering No. 2 would result in the decommissioning of all 10 nuclear reactors in the prefecture.

With little prospect of gaining local approval to restart the reactors at the No. 2 plant, its decommissioning was effectively the only choice left for the company, according to experts.

But Tepco had refrained from clearly indicating its stance.

Masako Sawai, secretary-general of a citizens group probing the causes of the meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, said, “It was inconceivable that Tepco, which caused the accident, would resume nuclear plant operations in Fukushima Prefecture. The company should have made the decision earlier.”

Conversely, Keiji Miyazaki, professor emeritus at Osaka University, said abandoning the Fukushima No. 2 plant would not make sense from an economic viewpoint.

“Unlike the No. 1 plant, the No. 2 plant did not suffer a critical accident. It can technically be restarted if safety measures are bolstered” to clear the stricter safety regulations introduced following the 2011 nuclear crisis, he said.

Uchibori, who is expected to seek a second term in the gubernatorial election later this year, has been seeking to scrap all nuclear reactors in Fukushima.