3 aging nuclear reactors in Japan set to be decommissioned

3 aging nuclear reactors in Japan set to be decommissioned
Anti-nuclear activists took to the streets on Sunday in Tokyo denouncing a planned restart of the country's nuclear reactors ahead of the fourth anniversary of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

Kansai Electric Power Co. decided at an extraordinary board meeting on Tuesday to decommission the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors at its Mihama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, as they have been operating for more than 40 years.

Also on Tuesday, Japan Atomic Power Co. decided at a board meeting to decommission the No. 1 reactor at its Tsuruga nuclear power plant in the same prefecture. KEPCO President Makoto Yagi reported the decision to dismantle the two aging reactors to Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa.

In the wake of the nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011, the government introduced a rule that limits operations of nuclear reactors to 40 years in principle. It is the first time a decision has been made to decommission reactors under this rule.

On Wednesday, Kyushu Electric Power Co. is expected to decide to decommission the No. 1 reactor at its Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture, and Chugoku Electric Power Co. is likewise expected to decide to dismantle the No. 1 reactor at its Shimane nuclear power plant in Shimane Prefecture.

Although the government calls for the decommissioning of reactors after 40 years of operation, this period can be extended by up to 20 years if they undergo special inspections and meet certain criteria. But the expense needed to pass the government's new safety standards is formidable.

The output capacity of the reactors decided to be decommissioned this time are less than half that of the most advanced reactors.

KEPCO and Japan Atomic Power decided it would be highly unlikely that they would be able to recover the cost necessary for reinforcement work even if extension of reactor operations were approved by the government.

"We decided to decommission Mihama's Nos. 1 and 2 reactors after making a comprehensive assessment of the technology needed for safety measures and construction costs," Yagi said.

Nishikawa called for establishing a system in which KEPCO would report the progress of decommissioning its reactors on a regular basis.

Japan Atomic Power was to convey its decision to decommission the reactor to the Fukui prefectural government and other entities later on Tuesday.

The government has been asking nuclear power plant operators to decide as soon as possible whether to decommission reactors that would have been operating for more than 40 years as of July 2016, or extend their operations.

KEPCO filed an application with the Nuclear Regulation Authority for safety screening to extend operations of the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors at its Takahama nuclear power plant and the No. 3 reactor at its Mihama nuclear power plant on Tuesday afternoon.

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