Restart of Genkai 3 moves closer with fuel loading

16 February 2018

Kyushu Electric Power Company today began loading fuel into the core of unit 3 at its Genkai nuclear power plant in Japan's Saga prefecture. The reactor, together with unit 4, is expected to be restarted later this year.

Genkai plant - 460 (Kyushu)
The four-unit Genkai plant (Image: Kyushu)

Under Japan's reactor restart process, plant operators are required to apply to the Nuclear Regulation Authority (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.

Kyushu submitted applications to Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) in July 2013 to restart Genkai 3 and 4, which have been offline since December 2010 and December 2011, respectively. In January 2017, the NRA confirmed the two 1180 MWe pressurised water reactors meet new regulatory standards.

The Saga prefectural governor gave his approval in April for the restart of the units, following the prefectural assembly's adoption of a resolution permitting their restart.

A group of some 230 residents from Saga and neighbouring Fukuoka Prefecture filed a lawsuit with the Saga District Court in July 2011. They claimed the safety of the Genkai plant is not secured. Kyushu, they said, had inadequate measures in place against earthquakes at the plant and a serious accident could occur due to degradation in pipe work. However, in a ruling last June, the court said it had found no issues with the plant's earthquake resistance or steps taken against serious accidents. It said there was no specific danger of radiation exposure at the plant.

Following NRA pre-operation inspections of the units to confirm that the safety countermeasure equipment complies with the approved construction plan at the Genkai plant, Kyushu is now loading fuel into unit 3 ahead of its restart.

In a statement, Kyushu said: "We continuously place the highest priority on safety, responding to inspections by the government sincerely and politely, and make our every effort to ensure security for the restart of our nuclear power stations."

Kyushu submitted a decommissioning plan for Genkai 1 to the NRA in December 2015. It has yet to decide whether to apply to restart unit 2.

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.

Earlier this week, Kansai completed loading fuel assemblies into the core of unit 3 at its Ohi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture. The utility plans to return both units 3 and 4 at the plant to commercial operation by mid-2018.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News