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2 utilities keen to restart 3 nuclear reactors in early 2018

In this Nov. 6, 2016 file photo, from left, the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant are seen from a Mainichi helicopter in Saga Prefecture. (Mainichi)
In this November 2016 file photo, from left, the No. 4 and No. 3 reactors at the Oi Nuclear Power Plant are seen from a Mainichi helicopter in Fukui Prefecture. (Mainichi)

The long-halted operation of the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant's No. 3 reactor is planned for restart in January of next year, and for a shift to commercial operation the following month, plant operator Kyushu Electric Power Co. announced on Aug. 28.

If and when the reactivation of the No. 3 reactor takes place, it will become the third reactor at nuclear plants operated by the Kyushu Electric to be restarted, after the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant in Kagoshima Prefecture.

Depending on the results of inspections that will be conducted by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), however, plans to resume operations of the No. 3 reactor in Genkai, Saga Prefecture, may be delayed. As for the plant's No. 4 reactor, reactivation plans are still up in the air.

Kyushu Electric submitted a request on Aug. 28 to the NRA for a pre-reactivation inspection of the No. 3 reactor. The inspection is set to begin on Sept. 11.

The Kyushu utility is set to carry out pluthermal power generation using MOX fuel, or mixed plutonium-uranium oxide fuel, at Genkai's No. 3 reactor. According to the plan, Kyushu Electric hopes to mount 193 units of nuclear fuel, including MOX fuel, to the No. 3 reactor in December. The control rods that suppress atomic fission will then be removed next January, reactivating the reactor. Power generation will be started two or three days after the reactor resumes operation, and the electricity that is generated will be transmitted to private homes and other facilities.

Also on Aug 28, Kansai Electric Power Co. announced its plans to resume operation of the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Oi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture in mid-January and in mid-March of next year, respectively. Construction work necessary to implement safety measures had taken longer than planned, causing a delay in the expected restarts. To resume operation of the reactors, Kansai Electric still needs to obtain the consent of the local community. It is anticipated that the lowering of electricity prices as a result of nuclear reactor restarts will be pushed back to next April at the earliest. Kansai Electric also submitted a request for pre-activation inspections to check the performance capabilities of the reactor equipment to the NRA on Aug. 28.

Because Kansai Electric already resumed operation of the No. 3 and No.4 reactors at its Takahama nuclear plant between May and June, the additional reactivation of the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Oi plant will bring the total of Kansai Electric reactors in operation to four. However, the Fukui Prefectural Government has not agreed to the resumed operation of the Oi nuclear plant's No. 3 and No. 4 reactors.

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