Plant Operation

Japan / Regulator Says Tepco Is Fit To Operate Kashiwazaki Kariwa Nuclear Power Station

By David Dalton
24 September 2020

Regulator Says Tepco Is Fit To Operate Kashiwazaki Kariwa Nuclear Power Station
The Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear power station in Japan.
Japan’s nuclear regulator announced on 23 September that Tokyo Electric Power Company is fit to operate the Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear power station, based on new legally binding safety rules the company drafted and pledged to follow.

If Tepco is found to be in breach of the rules, it could be ordered to halt the station’s operations, press reports in Japan said.

Local governments must agree in the coming months to restart the seven-unit station in Niigata Prefecture, northwestern Japan.

Kashiwazaki Kariwa was not affected by the earthquake and tsunami which damaged Fukushima-Daiichi in 2011. The station’s reactors were all offline at the time following a 2007 earthquake which damaged the site but did not damage the reactors themselves.

Tepco said in June it was concentrating its resources on restarting the newer Units 6 and 7 at Kashiwazaki Kariwa while it also dealt with the cleanup at Fukushima-Daiichi. Units 6 and 7 originally began commercial operation in 1996 and 1997 respectively.

Tepco has not announced specific plans on what it intends to do with the older five reactors at the facility.

In 2017, the regulator cleared Units 6 and 7 for restart under new regulations established in 2013 in response to Fukushima-Daiichi. It also scrutinised Tepco’s ability to run the station safely.

The Asahi Shimbun newspaper said that after several rounds of meetings with Tepco executives, the NRA secured guarantees that the company would abide by a new seven-point safety code. The code is legally binding and will hold the company accountable for safety measures at the facility.

Japan has a total of 62 nuclear power units, but shut down all 42 reactors that were operating at the time after the Fukushima-Daiichi accident in 2011. Thirty-three units have a licence to operate although before units return to service they need to meet stricter safety standards.

The nine units that have returned to service since Fukushima are Sendai-1 and -2, Genkai-3 and -4, Ikata-3, Ohi-3 and -4 and Takahama-3 and -4. However, Sendai-1 and Sendai-2 were both shut down again earlier this year after failing to meet deadlines for safety improvements.

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