Japan’s Chugoku Electric Power Company on 22 May requested permission from local authorities to apply for pre-start-up inspections of Shimane 3, which is currently under construction.
Construction of the 1373MWe advanced boiling water reactor (ABWR) began in December 2005 and the unit had been scheduled to begin operation in December 2011. However, in February 2011 Chugoku announced that fuelling and startup had been delayed three months due to a fault with the control rod drive mechanism. The Fukushima accident in March 2011 prevented its launch. However, Chugoku has now asked the Shimane prefectural government and the Matsue city government for permission to apply for Nuclear Regulation Authority safety inspections at Shimane 3. Both the prefectural and city governments will ask their assemblies to discuss the request .
Chugoku would become the second Japanese utility to apply to the NRA for pre-operation safety inspections for a new nuclear power reactor since the Fukushima Daiichi accident. The first was Japan Electric Power Development Corp (J-Power), which applied in December 2014 for inspections of Ohma1, an ABWR, under construction in Aomori prefecture. However, construction of Shimane 3 is more advanced than Ohma 1, and is expected to become the first new reactor to begin operating in Japan.Restart progress
Meanwhile, Kansai Electric Power Company’s Ohi 4 in Fukui Prefecture was connected to the national grid on 11 May. Ohi 4, a 1127MWe pressurised water reactor, began commercial operation in 1993. It is the eighth nuclear plant at five sites to be restarted under the new post-Fukushima NRA standards. Commercial operation is scheduled for June. In April Ohi 3 resumed commercial operation. It had been shut down in September 2013. Ohi 3 and 4 were the first two reactors to restart operation after Fukushima, but were taken offline in September 2013 for scheduled refuelling and maintenance. Their restarts where delayed by court action.
The Japanese units that have restarted are Kyushu Electric's Sendai 1&2 and Genkai 3; Shikoku Electric's Ikata 3; and Kansai's Takahama 3&4 and Ohi 3&4. However, Takahama 4, an 830 MWe PWR, has been shut down for a periodic inspection that will last about five months. Kansai Electric said the inspection will include checks on major plant components including the reactor units itself, the control systems, the cooling system, emergency power systems and the steam turbine and auxiliary equipment. Inspections will also be carried out of the handling and storage of spent nuclear fuel.