Kyushu rejects call for suspension of Sendai units

05 September 2016

Kyushu Electric Power Company has rejected a request from the governor of Japan's Kagoshima prefecture that operation of units 1 and 2 of the Sendai nuclear power plant be suspended immediately for safety checks. The company said it will continue operating the units until they enter routine scheduled outages later this year.

Sendai - 460 (JAIF)
Kyushu's Sendai plant (Image: JAIF)

Satoshi Mitazono, the recently-elected governor of Japan's Kagoshima prefecture, made the request on 26 August.

Mitazono pledged during the election campaign that he would call for Kyushu to suspend operation of the two Sendai units while their safety and evacuation plans are re-examined. However, as governor, he has no legal power to halt operation of the reactors.

During a meeting today at the prefectural government offices, Kyushu president and CEO Michiaki Uryu delivered the company's response to the governor's request.

He said the Sendai units will remain online until they are stopped for scheduled outages. Unit 1 is scheduled to begin a routine outage on 6 October and unit 2 on 16 December.

The company said in addition to the usual inspections it will also examine the units' reactor vessels and the plant's used fuel storage facility, as requested by Mitazono.

In addition, Kyushu said it would cooperate in a review of the Sendai plant's evacuation plans and will provide additional vehicles for the evacuation of elderly residents. The company also pledged to provide local residents with more information about the plant in the event of an accident or natural disaster.

However, Kyushu said it would not conduct further studies on active faults in the area of the Sendai plant, which the governor had sought, as extensive studies have already been carried out.

All of Japan's 48 operational nuclear reactors were gradually taken off line following the March 2011 accident at Fukushima Daiichi. A new regulatory regime has since been created and by mid-2013 the Nuclear Regulation Authority had rewritten the country's requirements for nuclear power plant safety. Power companies then submitted applications for reactor restarts, which have progressed slowly.

Sendai 1 was the first to be restarted, last August, followed by Sendai 2, in October.

Unit 3 of Kansai Electric Power Company's Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui prefecture resumed operation on 29 January. Takahama 4 was restarted on 26 February, but has remained offline since 29 February following an automatic shutdown of the reactor due to a "main transformer/generator internal failure". However, an injunction imposed by a district court on 9 March led to unit 3 being taken offline as well and both units have since remained idle.

Shikoku Electric Power Company's Ikata 3 in Ehime prefecture was restarted on 12 August.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News