Japan's Onagawa nuclear restart approved

Source : https://www.argusmedia.com/en/news/2159129-japans-onagawa-nuclear-restart-approved?backToResults=true


Japan's Miyagi prefecture has approved the return of Tohoku Electric Power's Onagawa nuclear power plant, removing the final hurdle to restarting the first reactor in the northeast of the country devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Miyagi governor Yoshihiro Murai yesterday agreed to the restart of Onagawa after meeting with the mayor of Ishinomaki city Hiroshi Kameyama and the mayor of Onagawa town Yoshiaki Suda. The Onagawa plant is located across the two municipalities.

Permission by local governments is essential before any restart of nuclear reactors in Japan, even though the reactors meet stricter nuclear standards designed to avoid a repeat of the Fukushima-Daiichi reactor meltdown in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The approval by Miyagi and the two host municipalities means that the 825MW No.2 Onagawa reactor is most likely to restart after reinforcement work is finished, as the unit has already received a safety clearance from Japan's nuclear regulation authority (NRA) in February. Tohoku aims to complete the safety reinforcement sometime in the April 2022-March 2023 fiscal year.

The Onagawa No.2 reactor may become the first boiling water reactor (BWR), the same type used in the Fukushima-Daiichi reactors, to restart after passing the NRA's new safety checks. Other BWRs — the No.6 and No.7 reactors at the Kashiwazki-Kariwa nuclear plant and the 1,100MW Tokai Daini reactor — have also met the safety standards but have not secured local consents.

Tohoku has two 825MW reactors at Onagawa after it scrapped its smallest and oldest 524MW No.1 reactor in December 2018. The company has not yet applied to the NRA for the No.3 Onagawa reactor's safety inspection.

Tohoku also has the 1,100MW Higashidori No.1 reactor in Aomori prefecture. It plans to complete its reinforcement work by March 2022. The reactor is currently carrying out the NRA's safety assessment.

Tohoku has been without nuclear power supplies since September 2011. The continuing lack of nuclear generation has forced the company to depend on replacement thermal power. The utility used 4.6mn t of coal during April-September, up by 20.9pc from the same period of 2019. But consumption of LNG and oil fell by 1.6pc to 1.8mn t and by 33.3pc to 2,750 b/d respectively during the period.

By Motoko Hasegawa

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