Tepco has made its first application to bring nuclear reactors back on line. The income from power generation would support the clean-up tasks at Fukushima Daiichi and avoid use of expensive imported fossil fuels.
The application today concerned Kashiwazaki Kariwa 6 and 7, Advanced Boiling Water Reactor units built in Niigata prefecture in the late 1990s. Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) has now submitted information on safety upgrades across the site and at those two reactor units that it claims meet new regulatory requirements. Although it has done work at the other units at the site, Tepco is concentrating its resources on units 6 and 7 while it deals with the clean-up at Fukushima Daiichi.
In operation, Kashiwazaki Kariwa 6 and 7 would generate a total of 2630 MWe and reduce the need for Tepco to spend on expensive oil and LNG-fired power generation that has substituted for nuclear power.
The Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry has estimated that Japanese power companies will have spent an additional ¥9.2 trillion ($93 billion) on imported fossil fuels since the Fukushima accident by the end of March 2014.
The Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) will now take at least six months to check over Tepco's application, its approval granting Tepco the legal right to restart the units. The pre-Fukushima practice of soliciting consent from local government was not legally binding and the extent of local consent that utilities must gain before restarting remains unclear in the new system. Utilities will seek consent from prefectural governments once they have NRA approval, but the final decision on restarts is said to remain with national government.
Kashiwazaki Kariwa 6 and 7 are the first boiling water reactors (BWRs), to be put forward for restart. Unlike the 12 pressurized water reactors that have entered the process since July, BWRs require a filtered containment venting system (FCVS). Under the general terms of a nuclear operator's agreement with local government, prefectural approval is required for an FCVS because its use during an emergency would mean releasing radioactivity.
All Japan's 50 operational reactors are shut down, but 14 applications have been made for restarts: Ohi 3 and 4; Takahama 3 and 4; Genkai 3 and 4; Sendai 1 and 2; Tomari 1, 2 and 3; Ikata 3; Kashiwazaki Kariwa 6 and 7
To meet the expectations of the governor of Niigata, Hirohiko Izumida, Tepco is installing two FCVS systems at all the Kashiwazaki Kariwa units. Izumida recently granted his approval for the FCVS to be included in Tepco's application to restart - but is yet to grant overall approval for the systems.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News