Tepco asks NRA to check safety of two reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant - ( J44P44NN )

Friday, September 27, 2013

Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Friday filed for formal safety assessments of reactors 6 and 7 at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture, joining moves by other utilities seeking to reactivate atomic power stations.

Tepco spent more than two months seeking local approval to apply for the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety inspections, reflecting the sensitivity of reactor restarts by the operator of the destroyed Fukushima No. 1 complex.

The move brings the number of reactors for which power companies have applied for NRA safety checks to 14. To resume operations, reactors have to be checked by the nuclear industry watchdog to determine whether they satisfy a set of new safety requirements introduced in July.

Tepco, struggling to meet the massive costs of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, is desperate to reactivate idled atomic units so it can reduce spending on expensive fossil fuel imports for thermal power generation. Niigata Gov. Hirohiko Izumida on Thursday gave the green light to Tepco’s plan to seek the safety assessments.

While it is not clear how long the NRA evaluation process will take, it is important for Tepco to show that it is at least making progress on improving its business conditions so it can continue to receive loans from its creditors.

If reactors 6 and 7 at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa are brought back online, Tepco estimates it could cut fuel costs by ¥200 billion to ¥300 billion per year.

The two advanced boiling water reactors and the newest of the seven atomic units at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, which, with a combined capacity of 8.2 million kw, is the world’s largest.

Under the new NRA regulations, reactors must be equipped with filtered venting systems to reduce radioactive substances if gas and steam have to be released from containment vessels in an emergency. Izumida, the Niigata governor, said Thursday the ventilation system should not be used at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa without securing local approval first.