The NRA then granted permission to the power company to make changes to the reactor installation (i.e., basic design approval), the 17th such permission granted under the new regulatory standards, and the fifth for a boiling water reactor (BWR).

The application for an examination of Shimane-2 was submitted to the NRA in December 2013, almost at the same time that the Tohoku Electric Power Co. filed its application for the Onagawa-2, for which permission to make changes was given in February 2020. For Shimane-2, the final stage of the examination focused primarily on tsunami countermeasures.

On June 23, the NRA approved a draft review report, saying the unit was compatible with the new regulatory standards. The draft report was then referred to the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) and the head of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), and was made open to the public for comments.

At the meeting on September 15, the NRA reconfirmed the adequacy of Chugoku Electric Power’s preparations for natural disasters, including tsunami and volcanic events, with reference to meteorological phenomena and geological data based on the newest edition of the Chronological Scientific Tables.

NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa and the other four commissioners were unanimous on the decision to grant permission to make changes to the reactor installation. At a press conference following the meeting, the chairman emphatically stated, “Permission to make changes to the reactor installation is just one step. I want Chugoku Electric Power to ready itself once again to ensure reactor safety.”

Noting that ten NPPs are currently undergoing examinations by the NRA, Chairman Fuketa went on to say, “The NRA must sustain a questioning attitude and not forget its first resolution.” That acknowledged the expanded knowledge and improved techniques on the examiner’s side, as well as concern for a loss of the feeling of ‘tension’ necessary for it to be able to act effectively.

Upon receipt of the permission for Shimane-2, President Mareshige Shimizu of Chugoku Electric Power released a statement calling it a “major turning point toward restart.” The statement also affirmed that the power company would continue to respond sincerely to the NRA in its examinations involving design and work plans, as well as revisions to operational safety programs.

See also the JAIF President’s Comments.