The government is weighing measures to aid power companies that decommission aging nuclear power plants and host municipalities that will lose nuclear power-related revenue. To facilitate the moves to scrap aging plants, some steps may be necessary to ease the process. But support should not be extended in ways that perpetuate the reliance of the power firms and the host municipalities on nuclear power.
Under safety regulations tightened after the March 2011 meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, utilities are not allowed in principle to run nuclear power reactors for longer than 40 years. The operators can seek to extend reactor operations for up to 20 years, but they need to undergo special inspections by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, which would require huge investments to upgrade aging equipment to beef up their safety.