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Kansai Electric Power Co has applied to Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) to continue operating the 826 MWe pressurised water reactor at unit 1 at its Takahama NPP in Fukui Prefecture after it reaches 50 years of operation in November 2024. Kansai Electric has submitted changes to the plant's safety regulations, including plans for the inspection and maintenance of the reactor for the next 10 years. Takahama 1, the oldest operating reactor in Japan, was commissioned in November 1974. In May, Japan enacted a law allowing power utilities to operate nuclear reactors for more than 60 years. The law will come into effect in June 2025.

NRA has approved extension of the reactor's operating life to 60 years, but Kansai Electric must also obtain the NRA approval of the submitted documents, including soundness assessments, before the reactor reaches its 50th anniversary. Kansai Electric conducted soundness assessments on about 4,000 pieces of equipment, and determined that it can ensure the soundness of the equipment until the 60th anniversary by implementing four additional maintenance measures. These include replacing the reactor's internal structures and inspecting parts that were found to have deteriorated at other plants.

Kansai has reported the details of its application to the governments of Takahama and Fukui Prefecture, which host the plant. Yuichiro Sakamoto, head of the prefectural government's disaster prevention and safety department, urged Kansai to "carefully explain to the people of the prefecture about how safety will be ensured”. Sakamoto said the prefecture's expert committee will check the details of the assessments and the result of the central government's screening.

Image: Aerial view of the Takahama nuclear plant (courtesy of Takaharu Yagi)

Date: Thursday, 09 November 2023
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