Four Japanese utilities last week announced that they would retire five older reactors rather than implement strict and expensive safety requirements mandated by new nuclear regulations. 

Kansai Electric Power Co. on March 17 said it will close two reactors (340 MW and 500 MW) at its Mihama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture. On the same day, Japan Atomic Power Co. separately announced that it would scrap a 357-MW reactor at its Tsuruga plant.

On March 18, Chugoku Electric Power Co. said it would decommission a 460-MW reactor at its  Shimane plant in Shimane Prefecture. Kyushu Electric Power Co., then followed suit, announcing it would shutter a 559-MWGenkai reactor in Saga Prefecture.

Capacity from the five reactors—all of which will be more than 40 years old by October—totals 2,089 MW. At least two other units of Japan’s 48-reactor fleet are at least 40 years old.

All of Japan’s 48 reactors remain idled, but regulators have approved four to restart.


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On March 17, meanwhile, Kansai Electric applied to restart Mihama Unit 3, and Takahama Units 1 and 2, bringing the number of reactors under safety review to 24. And on March 19, Kyushu Electric applied for a final safety check of its 890-MW Sendai Unit 1, saying it expects to restart the reactor by July.

If the Nuclear Regulation Authority approves that plan, Sendai Unit 1 will be the first nuclear reactor to resume operations following safety checks in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster four years ago. Sendai Unit 2 could begin operations in August, Kyushu said.

Sonal Patel, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)