Japanese Regulators Endorse Report That Could Shut Down Tsuruga 2

Japan's nuclear fleet was shaken this week by the nation's regulator endorsing reports that said the Tsuruga nuclear station's No. 2 reactor in the Fukui Prefecture and the Higashidori nuclear plant in the Aomori Prefecture were both sitting on geological fault lines.

Tsuruga NPPThe fault line under Tsuruga 2, owned by the Japan Atomic Power Co., is close enough to the Urasoko Fault line to be rattled if the Urasoko Fault moves, according to initial findings of the situation that were revealed in 2013. However, Japan Atomic Power contested the findings, which were confirmed this week with a report Nuclear Regulatory Agency chairman Shunichi Tanaka said was a “key judgment” in the matter. That indicates that the NRA will continue to rely on the damning report, as Japan Atomic Power continues to seek evidence that will allow it to return Tsuruga 2 to active commercial life.

The plant, like all 48 of Japan's nuclear reactors, remains closed while the country deals with the political aftershocks of the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011, which severely damaged, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station by triggering a tsunami that knocked out emergency cooling systems.

Japanese media say the NRA report is the equivalent of a death sentence for Tsuruga 2. In addition, it would be a game-changer for Japan Atomic Power, which derives all of its revenue from nuclear power, even during the nuclear power moratorium.

Japan Atomic Power is being paid a basic contracted rate, as part of a pre-2011 deal with Tokyo Electric Power Company. Japan Atomic Power is paid despite not producing power, Mainichi reported.

Subsequently, the company made a profit in the fiscal year ending March 2014. However, shuttering Tsuruga 2 permanently would be a serious blow to the company, which is already making plans to turn itself into a holding company and focus on decommission domestic nuclear power plants, while turning overseas to continue new nuclear projects.

In Japan, it would be left only with one nuclear station in Ibaraki Prefecture.

The second pertinent fault line report affects the Tohoku Electric Power Company's Higashidori nuclear power station, but further evaluations are expected to determine how active that fault line may be.

Tohuku plans to contest the geologic reports, which could be an expensive undertaking.

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