A team from the Nuclear Regulatory Authority on Thursday began screening safety procedures at two reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa in Niigata Prefecture.
In September, TEPCO applied to restart the plant's reactors No. 6 and No. 7 as early as possible. The two reactors have a power generation capacity of 1.36 million kilowatts each.
All nuclear power plant operators must get permission from the nuclear watchdog to restart reactors.
The entire power plant has been shuttered since around 12 months after the tsunami-sparked meltdowns at Fukushima in March 2011.
The NRA has set strict new standards that operators must show they can meet before they will be granted permission to restart reactors. These include the installation of a filter vent to ease pressure inside containment vessels if an emergency arises. The NRA is also examining data to determine whether small faults beneath the two reactors are active.
Getting the green light to seek safety approval for the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa facility, the world's largest nuclear plant, is a core element of the utility's turnaround plan as it struggles to contain contaminated water at the wrecked Fukushima plant.
TEPCO is already behind schedule on its revival plan, which called for firing up at least one Kashiwazaki Kariwa reactor by April of this year. If all seven reactors were operational, TEPCO says, it would save the company 100 billion yen a month in costs to generate power for Japan's biggest economic region.© Japan Today/AFP