Operator set to request 20 years extra for Tokai nuclear plant via The Asahi Shimbun

Japan Atomic Power Co. is preparing to apply for a 20-year extension to operate the aged Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant beyond its 40-year life span, sources said.

Such an extension would be the first among Japan’s aged boiling-water reactors, which include those at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant’s reactor, which went into service in 1978, is in a heavily populated area not far from Tokyo.

The company deems the 20-year extension of the plant in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, as imperative to securing a stable revenue stream, the sources said.

However, the plan is expected to bring a host of challenges to the operator.

One is how to secure funds so as to cover the costs to improve safety at the old facility required under the more stringent nuclear regulations set after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Another is to ease concerns of local governments of the area where nearly 1 million residents could be affected in the event of a serious accident.

The move toward the extension comes as the Nuclear Regulation Authority is set to rule that the plant has met standards set in the new regulations necessary for a restart, the sources said.

The Tokai No. 2 plant, about 120 kilometers from the heart of the capital, houses one unit capable of generating 1.1 gigawatts.


The company said Oct. 26 that the estimated costs of the safeguarding measures for a restart of the plant will balloon to about 180 billion yen ($1.58 billion), more than double the 78 billion yen projected initially.

The total sum is expected to further increase if Japan Atomic Power chooses to operate the plant beyond the 40-year limit, according to the sources.

The plant’s extended operation could prove to be a big headache for local governments nearby.

Municipalities within a 30-kilometer radius are required to draw up evacuation plans to prepare for a contingency in the post-Fukushima crisis years.

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