First Japanese reactors prepare for restart

22 May 2015

Japan's nuclear regulator has approved Kyushu Electric Power Company's 'construction plan' for unit 2 of its Sendai nuclear power plant. The company hopes to restart unit 1 of the plant in July, with unit 2 following within months.

Sendai 460 (Kyushu)
The Sendai plant (Image: Kyushu)

Kyushu submitted a joint application to the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) in July 2013 for the necessary permissions to restart both units 1 and 2 of the Sendai plant in Japan's Kagoshima prefecture. These approvals include: permission to make changes to the reactor installations; approval of its construction plan to strengthen the plant; and, final safety inspections to ensure the units meet new safety requirements.

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.

The NRA has today approved the construction plan for unit 2. Kyushu had submitted an amendment to that plan on 28 April.

With the latest approval, Sendai 1 and 2 have now both been granted two of the three regulatory approvals needed for restart. The remaining approval is for inspections to check operational safety programs.

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

'Pre-use' inspections got under way at unit 1 on 30 March. 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 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.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News