IAEA completes inspection of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa

13 July 2015

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today completed an assessment of operational safety at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Japan.

Kashiwasaki-Kariwa plant - 460 (Tepco)
The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant (Image: Tepco)

An IAEA Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) was sent to Tokyo Electric Power Company's (Tepco's) seven-unit Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata prefecture at the invitation of the Japanese government. OSART missions aim to improve operational safety by objectively assessing safety performance using the IAEA's Safety Standards and proposing recommendations for improvement where appropriate.

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa was unaffected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami which damaged the Fukushima Daiichi plant, although the plant's reactors were previously all offline for two to three years following the 2007 Niigata-Chuetsu earthquake, which caused damage to the site but did not damage the reactors themselves. While the units were offline, work was carried out to improve the plant's earthquake resistance. Like all of Japan's other nuclear power plants, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa has remained idle after being taken offline following the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

The assessment at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa - which began on 29 June - focused on safety measures that have to be in place regardless of whether the plant is operating. It included a review of areas including leadership and management, training, operations, radiation protection, technical support, operating experience, emergency preparedness and severe accident management.

The OSART team, which comprised ten international experts, noted a series of good practices and made recommendations to reinforce some safety measures during the mission.

The IAEA team said that, following the Fukushima Daiichi accident, the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant has implemented "comprehensive and robust" defence measures against severe accidents. The plant also conducts frequent emergency drills and has reduced fire risk through "thorough control of all combustible materials", the team concluded.

However, the team suggested a number of areas where operational safety can be improved at the site. These include the integration of systems that gather operating experience and using the information collected through them more proactively. The OSART team suggested accident management guidance should cover all plant conditions, including potential events involving the used fuel storage pools. It also said the plant's emergency plans should be "fully integrated and documented in a way that is clear and easy to use".

The IAEA team has handed a draft of their findings to Tepco. A final report will be submitted to the company and Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry within three months.

Tepco has applied to restart units 6 and 7 of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant. The Advanced Boiling Water Reactor units were built in the late 1990s. The company has submitted information on safety upgrades across the site and at those two reactor units that it claims meet new regulatory requirements. Although it has done work at the other units at the site, Tepco is concentrating its resources on units 6 and 7 while it deals with the clean-up at Fukushima Daiichi.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News