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16 February, 2016

Fukui Prefecture, Kansai EP and Others Conclude Agreements on Decommissioning

On February 10, three Japanese nuclear operators—the Kansai Electric Power Co. (Kansai EP), the Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPC) and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA)—signed separate agreements with Fukui Prefecture regarding the decommissioning of their nuclear power plants in the prefecture. In particular, the agreement comprised continued measures for ensuring safety, protecting the environment, and spurring regional development.

Mihama NPPs

In addition to their agreements with the prefecture, each of the operators also signed similar agreement with the municipalities within the prefecture in which they have situated nuclear facilities, as follows:

  • Kansai EP and Mihama Town, the host of the Mihama-1 and -2 NPPs (both shut down in April 2015).
  • JAPC and Tsuruga City, the host of the Tsuruga-1 NPP (shut down in April 2015).
  • JAEA and Tsuruga City, the host of the advanced thermal reactor (ATR) Fugen (shut down in March 2003; currently the Fugen Decommissioning Engineering Center).

All the agreements ask the relevant operators to reduce their amounts of radioactive waste, including dismantling waste, dust and liquid waste. They also call upon the operators to properly deal with such waste by storing them separately according to their levels of radioactivity, minimizing volumes and removing them systematically.

In terms of regional development, human resources will be enhanced and R&D on decommissioning will proceed in cooperation with local industries, universities and research institutes so as to promote employment locally.

The agreements also urge the operators to continue public information activities to help local residents better understand the implementation of NPP decommissioning and the safety measures being implemented.

Fukui Prefecture, which is the home of many aging reactors, needs to react not only to safety measures at NPPs, but also to such issues as disposing radioactive waste, decommissioning plants, and replacing aging reactors. The prefecture released a report in August 2014 on its investigations (including visits overseas) on measures for decommissioning and new power sources both in Japan and elsewhere.

In addition to the Tsuruga-1 and Mihama-1 and -2, which had already been shut down, the Chugoku Electric Power Co. shut down its Shimane-1, and the Kyushu Electric Power Co. shut down its Genkai-1 in April 2015 to balance production with economic efficiency.

Similar talks to the ones mentioned in the first paragraph will next take place among siting areas, the national government and the operators. They are expected to deal with appropriate waste management, regional development and more as required by decommissioning.

In July 2015, in his requests to the national government upon the restarting of the Ikata-3, Governor Tokihiro Nakamura of Ehime Prefecture—location of the Ikata NPPs, owned and operated by the Shikoku Electric Power Co., Inc.—asked for research on technology for decommissioning pressurized water reactors (PWRs) in light of the fact that the service period of the Ikata-1 is to end in September 2017 under the new regulatory standards.

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