Tepco: Geological Survey A Step Toward Higashidori Completion

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), owner of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Generating Station, said it remained committed to construction of the Higashidori Nuclear Power Plant in Aomori Prefecture, a site where construction of an advanced boiling water began in January 2011

Higashidori NPP (artist rendering)Tepco said in a recent news conference that it would conduct a geological survey that will commence this year. "In restarting the Higashidori plant project, we will proceed with the geological survey so that we can build a safer ... plant," Nuclear Engineering International quoted Tepco President Tomoaki Kobayakawa as saying.

Construction of Higashidori had began two months before the accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant that prompted a nationwide moratorium on nuclear power and increased safety protocols for owners of nuclear power plants. The focus of the new regulations related primarily on potential geological events and the need for secure backup power in the event of a strong earthquake, such as the 9.0-magnitude event that initiated the damage to the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.

Tepco has also said it would be open to joining forces with other nuclear plant operators, namely Chubu Electric Power, Kansai Electric and JAPC, for investment in the Higahidori plant. At present, interest in building new plants in Japan has waned, not only because of the new, more expensive safety requirements, but due to a leveling off of demand.

Both of Tepco's planned Higashidori reactors are advanced boiling water models with 1385 MWe capacities. Currently operating at the site is Tohoku Electric Power's Higashidori Unit 1, a boiling water reactor that began operations in 2005. The Higashidori site is unique in Japan in that two different companies are involved in construction of the facility. Originally, four reactors were planned for the site, with each company owning two apiece.

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