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27 February, 2020

NRA Approves Changes to Reactor Installation for Onagawa-2 under New Regulatory Standards

At its regular meeting on February 26, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) of Japan finalized the results of its examination of the Onagawa-2 Nuclear Power Plant (NPP, BWR, 825MW), owned and operated by the Tohoku Electric Power Co., for compatibility with new regulatory standards. It then issued permission to the power utility to make changes to the reactor installation (i.e., basic design approval).

Last November, the NRA issued a draft review report for Onagawa-2, which was then referred to the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), after which it was opened to the public for comments. The reactor becomes the 16th NPP to clear its examination for compatibility with the new regulatory standards, and the fourth BWR.

Tohoku Electric had originally filed an application to the NRA for a compatibility examination of Onagawa-2 in December 2013. Based on geological characteristics, as well as the fact that the unit had experienced a major earthquake, the NRA carried out its examination with particular caution, especially in regard to the evaluation of geological features, seismic motion and seismic design.

At a meeting with the press, NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa looked back on the examination, which required more than six years, and said that Tohoku Electric had “generally responded properly to the NRA’s requests.”

On February 4, after one of a series of meetings that the NRA is having with the top managements of nuclear operators, Tohoku Electric President Hiroya Harada emphatically told the press, “Now that the NPP has cleared the examination, motivation at the site is even greater.”

The company has been proceeding with work on safety measures, and expects to complete all of them—including a 29-meter seawall—by the end of the upcoming fiscal year in March 2021.

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