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Japan's Sendai nuclear plant may not restart by July: official


Japan's Kyushu Electric Power Co. may not be allowed to restart its two-unit Sendai nuclear plant by June 30 to meet summer peak demand for electricity, Shoji Shitanda, director for nuclear power safety at the Kagoshima prefectural government, said Thursday.

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Japan's nuclear regulator has prioritized the safety review of the 1,780-MW Sendai facility, leading to speculation it could be the first of the country's nuclear plants to get clearance to restart. All Japanese reactors are shut while the Nuclear Regulatory Authority reviews compliance with new safety regulations adopted after the Fukushima I nuclear accident in 2011.

In addition to NRA's safety review, plants seeking to restart must get approval from the central government's Agency of Natural Resources and Energy, and that of local governments at the prefecture and municipal level.

Credit rating agency Moody's Japan said in a March report that Sendai could restart in the second quarter, ahead of all other Japanese reactors.

Kagoshima prefecture and the city of Satsumasendai intend to hold three meetings for the NRA and Kyushu EPC to discuss plant safety at Sendai, Shitanda said.

Local government officials will likely discuss restart before Kagoshima Governor Yuichiro Ito makes a final decision, Shitanda said. He estimated that these local procedures could take two weeks to complete.

However, NRA has informed Kagoshima that it has no idea when it can complete a draft safety review summary, which is a prerequisite to the local discussions, Shitanda said.

NRA cannot predict when it can complete the summary, Hideka Morimoto, deputy secretary general, said in an interview after the commission meeting Wednesday.

The NRA draft summary will incorporate technical information from Kyushu EPC on changing the original reactor systems and from two subsequent documents, Shitanda said.

Kyushu EPC spokesman Hiroki Yamaguchi said Thursday that the company intends to submit the first of three regulatory documents required before restart by April 30. Shitanda said Kyushu EPC will be unable to deliver the two other documents to NRA until May 30.

--Shota Ushio,
--Edited by Derek Sands,