5 April, 2016
NRA Begins Pre-service Inspections of Ikata-3, Final Step before Restart
On the morning of April 5, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) began pre-service inspections at the Ikata-3 Nuclear Power Plant (PWR, 890MWe), owned and operated by the Shikoku Electric Power Co. in Ikata Town, Ehime Prefecture. The unit is expected to be restarted in late July.
The Ikata-3 NPP cleared the NRA’s compatibility examination under the new regulatory standards in July 2015. In the current pre-service inspections, the NRA will confirm that the equipment and facilities work as determined in the compatibility examination. This is the final procedure leading up to the restart, and, after clearing these inspections, Shikoku Electric Power expects to resume commercial operation of the unit as early as mid-August.
Since issuance of the new regulatory standards in the wake of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi NPPs, four NPPs have resumed operation. They are the Sendai-1 and -2 NPPs in Kagoshima Prefecture, owned and operated by the Kyushu Electric Power Co., and the Takahama-3 and -4 NPPs in Fukui Prefecture, owned and operated by the Kansai Electric Power Co. (Kansai EP). Operation of the latter two units has, however, been suspended under an order of the Otsu District Court issued in March.
On April 5, prior to inspecting Ikata-3’s strengthened reactor containment vessel, cooling pumps, etc., NRA inspectors reviewed documents to see if there were any problems in the company’s machinery quality management system.
According to Shikoku Electric Power, it plans to load 157 fuel assemblies, including 16 uranium-plutonium mixed oxide (MOX) fuel assemblies, into Unit 3 at the end of June, start up the reactor at the end of July, and put it back into service in August. When Ikata-3 commences MOX-fueled power generation, it will be the third unit to do so, following the Takahama-3 and -4 NPPs.
After Unit 3 cleared the NRA’s compatibility examination in July 2015, Governor Tokihiro Nakamura of Ehime Prefecture agreed in October to the restart. On March 23, the NRA approved the construction work plans for detailed designs of equipment and facilities at the plant.