Regulator approves safety of Ikata 3

15 July 2015

Japan's nuclear regulator has given Shikoku Electric Power Company permission to make changes to the reactor installation of unit 3 of its Ikata nuclear power plant in Ehime prefecture. It marks the first of three regulatory approvals required for restarting the unit.

Ikata NPP - 400 (NRA)
Shikoku's three-unit Ikata plant (Image: NRA)

Shikoku submitted an application to the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) in July 2013 for the necessary permissions to restart Ikata 3. These approvals include: 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.

The NRA has today given Shikoku approval to make changes to the reactor installations at the 846 MWe pressurized water reactor. The regulator's decision came after a review of some 10,000 pages of documentation submitted by Shikoku, 74 review meetings and on-site safety assessment investigations. The NRA released its draft assessment in May for public comment.

The approval - which means the NRA considers the reactor, and the plant as a whole, to be safe for operation - represents by far the major part of the licensing process.

The NRA said the next step will be a review of the detailed design and construction of the reactor and related facilities, as well as operational safety programs including organizational systems and procedures for accident responses. Once these are completed, 'pre-use' inspections will be conducted.

In addition to completing the remaining procedures for the NRA safety review, Shikoku must also obtain approval from local municipalities before it can resume operation of Ikata 3.

The unit is the fifth Japanese reactor - following Kyushu Electric Power Company's Sendai units 1 and 2 and Kansai Electric Power company's Takahama units 3 and 4 - to have obtained NRA safety approval based on stricter safety standards introduced following the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

The loading of fuel into the core of Sendai 1 was completed on 10 July. The unit is expected to start up in mid-August and return to normal power generation around September. It will be the first Japanese reactor to resume operation after the country's entire nuclear fleet was taken offline following the Fukushima accident.

Another 20 reactors are moving through the restart process, which has been prioritised to bring on the most-needed reactors first, in the localities and prefectures more supportive of restart.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News