Sendai reactors cleared for restart

27 May 2015

Kyushu Electric Power Company has today received the third and final regulatory approval necessary for restarting units 1 and 2 of its Sendai nuclear power plant in Japan's Kagoshima prefecture.

Sendai 460 (Kyushu)
The two-unit Sendai plant (Image: Kyushu)

The utility submitted a joint application to the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) in July 2013 for the necessary permissions to restart both units. These approvals include making changes to the reactor installations; its construction plan to strengthen the plant; and its operational safety programs for the units.

The NRA gave Kyushu approval in September 2014 to make changes to the reactor installations at both units. That approval - which meant the NRA considered the two reactors, and the plant as a whole, to be safe for operation - represented by far the major part of the licensing process. Approval of the company's construction plan for unit 1 was given on 18 March 2015, while that for unit 2 followed last week.

The NRA today approved Kyushu's operational safety plans for the Sendai plant. These include emergency response plans in case of fire, flooding or other natural disasters, or a serious accident.

Now that the utility has been granted all approvals in the three-step review process, the units must now undergo pre-start-up inspections before their operation can resume. 'Pre-use' inspections got under way at unit 1 on 30 March.

Kyushu has already obtained approval from the prefectural government and that of Satsuma-Sendai City for the restart of Sendai 1 and 2.

Kyushu plans to load fuel into the reactor during the first half of June. Following final safety inspections it anticipates restarting the unit in mid-July, with the reactor reaching full power by the end of that month. It expects the unit to "return to normal operation" by mid-August. The restart of unit 2 is expected to follow about two months behind that of unit 1.

The two 890 MWe pressurized water reactors at Sendai were taken offline for periodic inspections in May and September 2011, respectively. The restart of the units has been prioritised, in part due to local support in Kagoshima prefecture. They look set to be the first Japanese reactors to be restarted.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News