Electricity companies are likely to decide sometime this year whether to decommission or seek extensions for seven aging nuclear reactors that have been operating for around 40 years, according to sources.
The government may ask Kansai Electric Power Co., Kyushu Electric Power Co. and two other utilities to submit plans for dealing with the aging reactors as early as October.
The government wants to make progress on initiatives for decommissioning reactors so it can show its willingness to reduce the nation's dependency on nuclear power, the sources said.
Of the nation's 48 nuclear reactors, seven are being considered for decommissioning, including the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors at Kansai Electric's Mihama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, the No. 1 reactor at Chugoku Electric Power Co.'s Shimane plant in Shimane Prefecture, and the No. 1 reactor at Kyushu Electric's Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture.
The government is working on measures that would reduce burdens for power companies that decide to decommission reactors.
If decommissioning is made easier, power companies are expected to look more favourably on putting reactors out of service.
New criteria, stipulating that nuclear reactors should operate for 40 years in principle, went into force in July last year.
However, a special extension of up to 20 years can be granted if certain conditions are fulfilled.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has asked power companies that wish to apply for operational extensions to do so by next July, so it is expected that the utilities will move ahead with determining whether they want to decommission or seek extensions for the reactors.Speech