Tepco Receives Restart Permission For Two Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Units

Five commissioners at Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority on Wednesday voted unanimously in favor of a restart of units 6 and 7 at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, the world's largest nuclear power facility, which is owned by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco).

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa NPPThe restarts are not likely to occur soon with many expecting about three years of postponement due to the local government's insistence that Tepco first complete an in-depth review and analysis of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Generating Station decommissioning process. That review, already underway, is not scheduled for completion until 2020 at the earliest, said Reuters News.

Ryuichi Yoneyama, the governor of the Niigata prefecture, has stipulated the review be finished before he would allow Tepco to move forward on restarts. In addition, construction permits must be issued for safety upgrades Tepco plans for the plant.

However, the authorization from the NRA concerning the two Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units marks the first time the regulator has OK'd restarts for Tepco since the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster and the first time reactors of the same type that suffered meltdowns has been approved.

The plant on the coast of the Sea of Japan on the island's west side, consists of five Boiling Water Reactors and two Advanced Boiling Water Reactors – the type represented by KK-6 and KK-7, which have net power capacities of 1,356 megawatts. Units 6 and 7 were originally commissioned in 1996 and 1997, respectively, but were shut down during the country-wide moratorium imposed on the country after the March 2011 disaster.

Japan is officially targeting a return to nuclear power with a goal of advancing nuclear power to 20 percent of its energy generation mix by 2030, about half of the pre-Fukushima Daiichi accident target for domestic nuclear power.

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