TEPCO aims to build more Fukushima-type nuclear reactors, vows to ‘excel in safety’ this time

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Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant
1 Jul, 2018
TEPCO is conducting an independent geological survey to confirm the absence of active faults in Aomori Prefecture, where it wants to resume the construction of a Fukushima-type nuclear plant, frozen following the 2011 disaster.
“It’s necessary to form a consortium for building a nuclear plant that is excellent in safety, technology and economy,” TEPCO President Tomoaki Kobayakawa said in Tokyo, announcing the decision to conduct a survey of the Aomori Prefecture nuclear site.
The Higashidori Nuclear Power Plant hosts two adjoining sites administered by Tohoku Electric Power Company and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). While Tohoku Unit 1 began commercial operations in December 2005, TEPCO never got a chance to finish their unit, the construction of which began only in January 2011. All activity at the site has ceased since the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown.
TEPCO’s survey, scheduled for completion by 2020, will check the fault structure under the site using a two-kilometer-long tunnel, Kobayakawa said on Friday. Previous studies of terrain beneath the area by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) found the likely presence of multiple active, seismogenic faults. However, both TEPCO and the Tohoku Electric Power Company decided to conduct further ‘independent’ investigations to review the validity of the NRA findings.
The energy company wants to build two reactors at the site and is exploring ways to meet the stricter government regulations introduced following the Fukushima disaster. Higashidori units, however, would still use the same type of boiling-water, light-water reactors that suffered meltdown at the Fukushima plant, Japan Times noted.
“As we restart the (Higashidori) project, I want to make sure that a new plant would excel in safety,” Kobayakawa told a press conference. “The geological survey is a very significant step to move forward on the joint development of Higashidori,” he noted, adding that TEPCO has asked major utility companies in the country to contribute to the construction and operation of the Higashidori plant.
Three of the Fukushima plant’s six reactors were hit by meltdowns in 2011, after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck the facility, resulting in the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

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Tepco and other utilities eye joint nuclear plant project in Aomori Prefecture

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Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and other major utilities will start talks this spring on jointly building and operating a nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan, sources close to the matter said Friday.
The plan involves Tepco’s Higashidori nuclear power plant in Aomori Prefecture, the construction of which was suspended following meltdowns at the firm’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant in March 2011. Tohoku Electric Power Co., Chubu Electric Power Co., and Japan Atomic Power Co. are expected to participate in the project, according to the sources.
Kansai Electric Power Co. is also considering joining a group to discuss the role of each utility and how to shoulder the huge costs related to the Higashidori plant, they said.
The government, which holds the majority of Tepco’s voting rights through a state-backed bailout fund, is expected to support the move.
Tepco, which began constructing the Higashidori plant in January 2011, hopes to compile a joint venture plan around fiscal 2020.
Struggling under the burden of huge compensation payments and plant decommissioning costs from the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Tepco is aiming to rebuild itself through realigning its nuclear business. The utility has been asking other power companies since late last year to join in with construction of the Higashidori plant.
Other utilities may benefit from the joint business as they can share know-how and resources through the initiative at a time when profitability is deteriorating, due to suspensions of nuclear power plants for tighter safety screening introduced after the Fukushima disaster.
Still, many utilities remain wary that teaming up with the crisis-hit Tepco could result in their share of plant decommissioning costs increasing in the future.