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17 July, 2015

NRA Confirms Progress in Inspections at Sendai-1 before Restart

At its regular meeting on July 15, Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) confirmed the state of inspections at the Sendai-1 Nuclear Power Plant (PWR, 890MWe), owned and operated by the Kyushu Electric Power Co. It further approved the coming schedule for the plant.

Sendai NPPs

After it approved a change to the reactor’s basic design in September 2014, the NRA gave its first-ever approval at Sendai-1 to an examination of a reactor’s compatibility with new regulatory standards. Later, in March of this year, it approved the construction work plan (i.e., a fleshed-out design based on the basic design), and approved revisions to the operational safety program two months later in May.

Currently, it is carrying out a pre-service inspection toward the restart of Sendai-1, concurrently with an inspection of Sendai-2. On July 10, Kyushu Electric Power completed its loading of fuel assemblies at Unit 1.

The pre-service inspections, which began on March 30, have looked at the state of reactor buildings, as provided for in the first five clauses of the relevant ordinance. So far, inspection of the items in the first three clauses has been completed at Unit 1. Also, a revised operational safety program came into effect on June 5, after the approval given in May.

Accordingly, from June 8 to 26, the NRA conducted its first safety pre-service inspection of the year to confirm that improved measures for severe accidents and other contingencies were properly reflected in operational safety activities, and that they were being implemented. After that, from July 6 to 14, the NRA inspected operations for loading fuel assemblies into the reactor.

From now on, the NRA will inspect comprehensive drills for severe accidents prior to restarting Sendai-1. It is also redoing a periodic inspection of the unit that had been underway when the new regulatory standards came into effect, so as to confirm that it abides by the new standards, while also looking at items previously inspected.

After listening to explanations from staff of the NRA secretariat responsible for specific inspections, NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said, “Safety must remain our consistent priority to the end, and not merely following a schedule.” That demonstrated his determination for inspections as time progresses, as Japan will soon see the first restart of an NPP that has cleared the new regulatory standards.

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