16 Apr (NucNet): Japanese prime minister Yoshihiko Noda has said Kansai Electric Power Company’s Ohi-3 and -4 nuclear units are safe enough to resume operation before summer, Yukio Edano, minister for Economy, Trade and Industry, said.
According to the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF), Mr Edano has already met with the governor of Fukui Prefecture, site of the Ohi plant, to tell him that the government has approved restarting the units, both of which are offline for safety checks.
JAIF said Mr Edano “stressed the importance of nuclear power as a core energy source” and expressed the hope that the governor and local communities understand that the reactors need to be put back online.
JAIF said the prefectural government intends to have its own panel of experts check the safety of the reactors, on the country’s southwest coast.
Japan has only one of its 54 commercial nuclear reactors in operation, and that unit, Tomari-3, is scheduled for an outage beginning on 5 May.
Mr Edano said it is unlikely the Ohi units will be back in operation by 5 May, so it is likely Japan will have no units online when Tomari-3 is shut down.
Reactors around the country are undergoing safety checks in the wake of the March 2011 disaster that destroyed four units at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant.
Following the Fukushima-Daiichi accident, the government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) ordered two-stage stress tests on all Japan’s nuclear reactors.
Preliminary assessments examine a plant’s ability to survive beyond design basis events and are being carried out during planned periodic inspections for nuclear power plants that are ready to start-up.
Secondary “comprehensive” safety assessments are being carried out on all nuclear plants, including those that are subject to the preliminary assessments. NISA said the secondary assessments take into account the stress tests in European countries and reviews by Japan’s Fukushima-Daiichi Investigation and Verification Committee.