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5 October, 2017

Kashiwazaki Kariwa 6&7 Become First BWRs to Clear Safety Examinations as NRA Finalizes Examination Reviews

On October 4, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) of Japan finalized draft review reports concerning the Kashiwazaki Kariwa-6 and -7 Nuclear Power Plants (ABWRs, 1356 MWe each), owned by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), in Niigata Prefecture, saying that both reactors meet the country's new regulatory standards. They will be the first boiling-water reactors (BWRs) approved. The review reports will be officially approved following periods for public opinions.

In the examinations of Units 6 and 7 at Kashiwazaki Kariwa, applications for which were filed in September 2013, there was difficulty in determining standard ground motion (Ss). In addition, there was a focus on the eligibility of TEPCO itself as an operator – that is, whether it was fit to restart the plants, as the party responsible for the Fukushima Daiichi accident. It took about four years for the NRA to finalize the examination reviews. In terms of eligibility, the NRA carried out a separate examination and drew up a report on the results of its confirmation. The report said TEPCO’s efforts to deal with the Fukushima Daiichi accident with sincerity, determination and a safety-first stance had been made clear through exchanges of views with TEPCO’s management that the NRA conducted in August 2017.

Upon finalization of the review reports, TEPCO released comments to the effect that it would respond to the NRA’s examinations with sincerity and respect, continue endeavoring on the reconstruction of Fukushima, on the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi NPPs, on compensating for damage, and would “work on endless activities to improve nuclear safety and ensure the safety and reliability of the Kashiwazaki Kariwa NPPs.”

Now that the NRA has finalized its first examination reports on BWRs, it said it would organize the technical information obtained through the examinations and reflect it in the current regulatory standards in the form of updated additional requirements.

Damaged by the Niigata Chuetsu Offshore Earthquake in July 2007, the Kashiwazaki Kariwa-6 and -7 NPPs resumed operation after evaluations of the soundness of all facilities. They have, however, been shut down since periodic inspections began in March 2012 and August 2011, respectively. Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama of Niigata Prefecture has shown a cautious attitude toward restarts hereafter. He will not discuss restarts unless the cause of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, the effects of nuclear accidents on the human body, and the adequacy of evacuation plans in case of a nuclear accident are verified.

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