Fukui governor approves restart of Ohi units

27 November 2017

The governor of Japan's Fukui Prefecture has today approved the restart of units 3 and 4 of Kansai Electric Power Company's Ohi nuclear power plant. The utility reportedly plans to restart both units by mid-March.

Ohi 3 and 4 460 (Kansai Electric).jpg
Ohi units 3 and 4 (Image: Kansai)

Governor Issei Nishikawa gave his approval for the restart of the two reactors in a telephone conversation with economy, trade and industry minister Hiroshige Seko, the Kyodo news agency reported. At a press conference, Nishikawa said he gave his consent after "comprehensively considering opinions of our town and prefectural assemblies as well as responses to the government and the plant operator to an idea of setting up an interim used fuel storage facility outside our prefecture."

Following the shut down of all of Japan's reactors after the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, Ohi 3 and 4 were given permission to resume operation in August 2012. However, the two 1180 MWe pressurized water reactors were taken offline again for Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) inspections in September 2013.

Under Japan's reactor restart process, plant operators are required to apply to the NRA for: permission to make changes to the reactor installation; approval of its construction plan to strengthen the plant; and, final safety inspections to ensure the unit meets new safety requirements. Operators are required to add certain safety-enhancing equipment within five years of receiving the NRA's approval of a reactor engineering work programme.

Kansai submitted its construction plan application for Ohi 3 and 4 in July 2013. The NRA approved the plan for strengthening the units in August this year.

Kansai now plans to apply for pre-operation inspections of the units. These inspections are to confirm that the safety countermeasure equipment complies with the approved construction plan at the plant.

While utilities must seek consent from prefectural governments for restarting reactors, the final decision remains with national government. The town assembly of Ohi and the prefectural government have already approved the units' restart. According to Kyodo, Kansai plans to restart Ohi unit 3 in mid-January and unit 4 in mid-March.

In a statement, Kansai president Shigeki Iwane said: "In addition to the governor of Fukui Prefecture and the Fukui prefectural people, we would like to thank you once again for your continued understanding and support for nuclear power projects and for your continued efforts to ensure a stable supply of electricity."

Of Japan's 42 operable reactors, five have so far cleared inspections confirming they meet the new regulatory safety standards and have resumed operation. These are: Kyushu's Sendai units 1 and 2; Shikoku's Ikata unit 3; and Kansai's Takahama units 3 and 4. Another 19 reactors have applied to restart.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News