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Onagawa-2 to likely be first BWR to restart since Fukushima I accident

Tokyo — Tohoku Electric Power Co.'s 825-MW Onagawa-2 is likely to be the first boiling water reactor to restart in Japan since the 2011 Fukushima I accident, after commissioners of Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority unanimously agreed Wednesday the unit meets regulatory safety requirements.

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Tohoku Electric intends to complete all safety work at Onagawa-2 by March 2021 and then undergo and pass NRA's pre-operational inspections, company spokesman Daisuke Yokoo said Tuesday.

Tohoku Electric must also file with NRA an engineering and construction program that describes safety systems in detail, but the pre-operational inspections are generally the last regulatory hurdle prior to restart.

Within five years after the NRA staff's approval of the engineering and construction program, the company will have to complete a bunkered back-up safety center.

An analysis of NRA records by S&P Global Platts showed that NRA required 205 days on average to complete pre-operational inspections at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s 1,175-MW Ohi-3 and -4 and at Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s Genkai-3 and -4, each with a capacity of 1,180 MW.

Tohoku Electric is the only nuclear power operator which none of Japan's anti-nuclear groups has sued in an attempt to prevent restart of its reactors, according to the Anti-Nuclear Power Lawyers National Liaison Group.

Of Japan's 34 operable reactors, including Chugoku Electric Power Co.'s new 1.373-MW Shimane-3, 16 units have been found to meet NRA safety requirements, with nine of them commercially operated.

NRA is conducting review of safety plans at 11 units, including Electric Power Development Co.'s 1,383-MW Ohma reactor which is only 37.6% completed. Of the remaining eight units, the owners have yet to decide whether to restart or decommission the units.

Speaking during a news briefing Wednesday, NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa said he "was impressed with people's concern over the damage" caused by the magnitude 9 earthquake March 11, 2011. It left 1,130 cracks on the walls of the Onahama-2 reactor building, according to NRA records.