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Japan regulator says nuclear units must shut if they miss upgrade deadline

Tokyo — Japanese utilities say they will miss safety upgrade deadlines starting in 2020

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Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority said Wednesday it will order the country's three power companies to shut their nuclear reactors if they miss the deadlines starting in 2020 for completing safety facilities designed to mitigate a severe accident caused by an intentional or accidental plane crash.

The five commissioners at NRA unanimously agreed that the regulator should do so. "We can't overlook" the fact the power companies may not meet the deadlines, NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa said during a commissioners' meeting Wednesday.

Kyushu Electric Power Co., Kansai Electric Power Co., and Shikoku Electric Power Co. said April 17 that the completion of back-up control centers for their 10 units will be delayed by about one to three years beyond the deadlines set by the regulator. Kyushu Electric has said its two other units will also be affected, but added that how long the completion of the facilities for those units will be delayed is uncertain.

Building the safety facilities within five years after the utility companies received NRA approval for their engineering work plans to restart their reactors is a requirement of the safety regulations that NRA set in 2013 following the 2011 Fukushima I accident.

Under the regulations, NRA can exercise an option to force power companies to shut down their reactors should they fail to meet such deadlines.

The three power companies said the reactors to be affected include Kyushu Electric's 890-MW Sendai-1 and -2 and 1,180-MW Genkai-3 and -4, Kansai Electric's 870-MW Takahama-3 and -4 and 1,180-MW Ohi-3 and -4, and Shikoku Electric's 890-MW Ikata-3. These have been restarted following the Fukushima I accident.

Kansai Electric's Takahama-1 and -2 and Mihama-3, 826 MW each, could also have to be shut down. The utility is now implementing engineering works for restart of these three reactors.

-- Yuzo Yamaguchi, yuzo.yamaguchi@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Jonathan Dart, newsdesk@spglobal.com

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