Japanese Regulator Approves Five Decommissioning Plans

The Nuclear Regulatory Authority in Japan on Wednesday approved plans to decommission five shuttered nuclear power plants that fell, due to their age, into an undesirable category after new standards were adopted in reaction to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident.

Mihama NPPAfter the accident, Japan prohibited reactors to operate beyond 40 years without considerable upgrades, which prompted the decisions to shutter the reactors based on the cost of the needed improvements. The five reactors designated for decommissioning Wednesday were the first to have their decommissioning plans approved. The reactors involved are Mihama's Units 1 and 2 (in Fukui Prefecture, operated by Kansai Electric Power), Tsuruga Unit 1 (in Fukui Prefecture, operated by Japan Atomic Power Company), Shimane Unit 1 (in Shimane Prefecture, operated by Chugoku Electric Power Company) and Genkai Unit 1 (in Saga Prefecture, operated by Kyushu Electric Power Company). The companies expect decommissioning to take about 30 years, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Currently, the NRA is reviewing decommissioning plans for a sixth reactor: Unit 1 at the Ikata power plant (in Ehime Prefecture, operated by Shikoku Electric Power Company).

The regulator has approved continued operations at Mihama Unit 3 and Takahama Units 1 and 2, older plants operated by Kansai Electric Power. The Takahama plant is also in Fukui Prefecture, which is on the Sea of Japan side of the main island, directly opposite Tokyo.

In addition, the regulator approved operations at Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd.'s uranium processing plant in the Aomori Prefecture. Further approval from the industry minister is required prior to the processing plant's restart, according to the Japan Times.

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