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10 June, 2015

NRA to Partially Redo Pre-service Inspections at Sendai-1

On June 8, after the discovery of numerous incomplete documents and erroneous written entries, Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) began redoing portions of the pre-service inspections that it had already completed at the Sendai-1 Nuclear Power Plant (PWR, 890MWe), located in Kagoshima Prefecture on the island of Kyushu.

Sendai NPPs

Pre-service inspections are the final stage before a nuclear power plant can be restarted. The Kyushu Electric Power Co. — the owner and operator of the unit — has now postponed its scheduled restart of the unit from early July to mid-August. Given, however, that the NRA has pointed out so many items to be corrected, it seems pointless to hope that the power company can restart the unit during the summer when electricity demand is at its peak.

Saying that the omissions and errors found during inspections were “not mere entry mistakes” but of a nature now requiring “the confirmation of facts,” the NRA intends to carry out inspections again in the area of quality control, which had already been completed.

Specifically, for example, there were discrepancies between the data that Kyushu Electric Power had presented on bore diameters of fuel lines to emergency power facilities and those contained in the original records of the manufacturer at the time of installation.

Units 1 and 2 at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plants had cleared NRA’s safety examinations in September 2014, insofar as their compatibility with new regulatory standards was concerned. The construction work plans for equipment and facilities at Unit 1 were approved in March 2015, with revisions to the operational safety program (operation and management system) approved on May 27, completing that series of examinations.

Pre-service inspections to confirm the performance of equipment and facilities at the site began at the end of March 2015. After the passage of more than two months, only 30 percent of the total has been completed, since the inspections had to be suspended due to the power company’s lack of preparation, and the time for them had to be extended. Kyushu Electric Power has already changed its inspection plan twice. According to its original plan in March, it had originally hoped to restart the units in early July, but postponed that to the end of July on May 11, and to mid-August on June 1.

According to Kyushu Electric Power, around 420 personnel were engaged in inspections, double from the initial 200 or so. Even so, that has not been enough to allow it to maintain its schedule. Pre-service inspections has just started at Unit 2 on June 10. The inspections of equipment and facilities to be jointly used by Units 1 and 2 are expected to be completed in the middle of this month, with fuel to be loaded into the Unit-1 reactor core in early July.

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