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   hoseobyoon (2014-07-01 15:17:12 )
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   Japan to experience nuke free summer

June 25, 2014

TweetTHE ASAHI SHIMBUN

Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s delayed application for safety screenings of two reactors means Japan will be without nuclear energy this summer for the first time since the Fukushima nuclear accident started in March 2011.

The utility on June 24 submitted additional documents to the Nuclear Regulation Authority for its application to restart the idled reactors at the Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture.

The NRA will announce the results of the screening, possibly in early July. It will then gather opinions on the results over 30 days and reach a final decision on whether to allow Kyushu Electric to restart the two reactors at the Sendai plant.

However, the utility must also obtain NRA approval for other items, such as facility designs and emergency procedures for accidents, under stricter safety standards.

The NRA will likely complete all the necessary screening processes at the Sendai plant in August at the earliest.

But it will take one or two months to inspect the nuclear plant before its operations can resume. That means Kyushu Electric will be able to restart its reactors in September at the earliest, even if it meets other conditions, such as obtaining consent from local governments.

Currently, the NRA safety screening of the Sendai plant has progressed furthest among all nuclear plants seeking to restart their reactors. The two reactors are expected to be the first to resume operations in Japan.

Kyushu Electric had submitted a revised application form to the NRA at the end of April, but it was found to contain 42 flaws.

The utility said it would modify the 42 portions by the end of May. However, the revisions took nearly a month longer to complete.

After the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami led to the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, more than 10 reactors were operating in the summer that year.

But their operations were later suspended for regular inspections, and restarting them required NRA approval under the new safety standards.

All reactors in Japan were temporarily offline. But in July 2012, the Democratic Party of Japan-led government allowed Kansai Electric Power Co. to restart two reactors at its Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture. Those operations continued until September 2013.

In the absence of nuclear power generation, utilities have increased thermal power generation while the government has called on the public to conserve energy during the peak summer period.

According to government calculations, Kansai Electric’s average reserve rate--the margin by which supply exceeds demand--will be 1.8 percent this summer. The rate for Kyushu Electric is estimated at 1.3 percent.

Both figures are lower than the minimum requirement of 3 percent.

However, the utilities will be able to achieve the 3-percent rate by receiving electricity from Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Considering the public’s heightened awareness of energy conservation, the government has decided not to ask residents in specific areas to refrain from using electricity during certain hours of a day.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN










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