25.09.2017_No191 / News in Brief

Japan’s Regulator To ‘Reduce Burden’ On Utilities Seeking Operating Extensions

Plant Operation

25 Sep (NucNet): Japan’s nuclear regulator is to “remove the burden and pressure” on power utilities by extending the period during which reactor operators can apply for lifetime extensions for ageing units. The Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (Jaif) said on 25 September 2017 that the Nuclear Regulatory Association will change the three-month application period, which coincides with a reactor’s final three months of operation in its 38th year. Ageing reactors in Japan are defined as those approaching 40 years of commercial service. New regulations will replace the existing three-month window by moving it forward to the beginning of a reactor’s 35th year of operation, Jaif said. The operational lifetime of a nuclear power plant in Japan is restricted in principle to 40 years. To extend that lifetime, separate examinations by the NRA are required for extending and restarting units. If a unit clears the extension examination, its operating lifetime can be extended for up to another 20 years, on a one-off basis. Only three nuclear plants in Japan have passed life extension examinations for ageing units. They are Mihama-3, Takahama-1 and Takaham-2, all owned and operated by the Kansai Electric Power Company in Fukui Prefecture, in western Japan. Jaif said the burden placed on those working on extensions for ageing units has become an issue in Japan since the suicide of a Kansai Electric employee in charge of examinations for the two Takahama reactors. The suicide was said to be work-related, according to Jaif. Nuclear plant operators and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party have been seeking revisions to the timeframe to reduce the burden on operators, including extensive paperwork, Jaif said.

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