Japan’s NRA OKs Extension of Sendai N-Reactor Lifetimes

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear power plant

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority on Wednesday approved an extension of the operating lifetimes of two reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear power plant nearing 40 years since the start of operation.

The approval will allow the company to extend the lifetimes of the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, for 20 years in principle.

They will be the fifth and sixth reactors in Japan allowed to operate beyond the basic lifetime of 40 years. Their predecessors are Kansai Electric Power Co.’s No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan, the same company’s No. 3 reactor at the Mihama plant also in Fukui and Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tokai No. 2 plant in Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo.

The Sendai plant’s No. 1 reactor will mark its 40th anniversary in July next year, and the No. 2 reactor in November 2025.

In October last year, Kyushu Electric applied for the extension after conducting special inspections, confident that it can continue to operate the reactors safely.

Japan in May this year enacted a law to allow power companies to operate nuclear reactors for over 60 years by excluding periods of suspension for reasons such as safety inspections by the NRA.

The No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the Sendai power station need to be examined and approved again by the NRA by June 2025, when the law, aimed at securing energy sources to realize a decarbonized society, takes effect.

The two reactors started commercial operations in 1984 and 1985, respectively.

In September 2014, the reactors became the first in Japan to pass the new safety standards drawn up after the March 2011 triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in northeastern Japan. The No. 1 and No. 2 reactors restarted in August and October 2015, respectively.