Decommissioning plans for 5 reactors approved
Japan’s nuclear regulator has approved plans submitted by operators of 4 power plants to decommission 5 aging nuclear reactors. The reactors are to be scrapped in a process lasting up to nearly 30 years.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority approved the plans at a meeting on Wednesday.
Under a government policy introduced after the 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, reactor lifespan was limited to 40 years in principle.
In 2015, utility companies decided to dismantle the 5 reactors. The 5 include 2 reactors at the Mihama plant and one at the Tsuruga plant, both in Fukui Prefecture, one at the Shimane plant in Shimane Prefecture and one at the Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture.
The plans call for first decontaminating pipes and dismantling facilities that are free of radioactive contamination.
The operators assume that the reactors and their buildings will be taken down and removed by fiscal 2045 at the latest.
At issue is where to put control rods, reactor parts and other radioactive waste. No site for a final disposal facility has been designated.
The regulator is checking another decommissioning plan for a reactor at the Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture. The facility’s operator decided last year to dismantle it.
Nuclear authority approves decommissioning plans for 5 aging reactors
TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan’s nuclear authority approved decommissioning plans for five aging reactors at four power plants on Wednesday, the first such approvals since a government regulation was implemented after the 2011 Fukushima disaster to stop the operation of reactors beyond 40 years.
The five reactors are the Nos. 1 and 2 units at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Mihama plant in Fukui Prefecture, the No. 1 unit at Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tsuruga plant in Fukui Prefecture, the No. 1 unit at Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s Shimane plant in Shimane Prefecture and the No. 1 unit at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture.
While the utilities indicated it will take about 30 years to complete the decommissioning of each reactor, the disposal sites for the radioactive waste from the facilities have yet to be determined.
The decommissioning work will involve removing spent fuel from pools, dismantling reactors and demolishing surrounding facilities.
The regulation brought in following the 2011 disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant prohibits nuclear reactors from operating for over 40 years in principle, but the Nuclear Regulation Authority can approve the operation of a unit for up to 20 more years if the operator makes safety upgrades and the unit passes screening.
It was decided in March 2015 to scrap the five reactors, mainly due to profitability, as huge amounts of additional investment would be needed to meet the new safety requirements to keep the reactors operating beyond 40 years.
Meanwhile, the authority has given approval for the extended operation of the No. 3 unit at Kansai Electric’s Mihama plant as well as the Nos. 1 and 2 units at its Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture, which are also around 40 years old.
The authority is currently examining Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s decommissioning plan for the No. 1 unit at the Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture, after the utility decided in March 2016 to scrap the reactor.
In Wednesday’s meeting, the authority also decided that Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd.’s uranium enrichment facility in the village of Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, satisfies regulatory requirements, virtually giving a green light for its operation. The decision will become official after consultation with the industry minister.
It will become the second fuel plant to clear new regulatory requirements after Global Nuclear Fuel-Japan Co.’s plant in Kanagawa Prefecture.