The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) on Friday continued its safety screening of three aging nuclear reactors whose operator Kansai Electric wishes to put them online and keep them in use beyond the 40-year operational limit.
The NRA is inspecting the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors at the Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture, as well as No. 3 reactor at the Mihama plant, also in Fukui.
Tougher safety standards set after the March 11, 2011 Fukushima disaster are aimed at scrapping aging reactors. All 48 of Japan's nuclear reactors were taken offline after the disaster. As many as two-thirds of the country's reactors may never return to operation because of high costs, local opposition or seismic risks, a Reuters analysis showed last year.
Kansai Electric Power, which depended on its nuclear fleet for nearly half of its total power output before 2011, has already said it would scrap its Mihama No. 1 and No. 2 reactors.
The new safety standards limit a nuclear reactor's lifespan to 40 years unless it can clear tough rules for a one-time extension. The deadline to apply for that extension is July 2015.
Japan's trade ministry has been pushing nuclear operators for a quick decision on scrapping aging reactors that are too costly to upgrade, promising financial support for a smooth decommissioning.
Japan has revised accounting rules to allow utilities to spread the write-offs for reactor closures over 10 years and to pass on some of the cost to ratepayers.© Japan Today/Thomson Reuters