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Saturday, Sep. 22, 2012

No more reactors likely to go online until next year: NRA


Staff writer

The newly launched Nuclear Regulation Authority suggested Friday that reactor restarts will be on hold at least until next year because it needs about six months to draft new safety standards.

This means the nation will have to pass the winter without atomic energy, except for two reactors at the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, the only reactivations to date since the triple meltdowns in Fukushima in March 2011.

In an interview published Friday by the Nikkei Shimbun, NRA chief Shunichi Tanaka said drawing up the safety regulations will take time.

Hideka Morimoto, a spokesman for the new nuclear watchdog, concurred, saying, "We want to draft them as soon as possible, but we have to review a lot of things so it will be a tough job."

The NRA, which was launched Wednesday, is required by law to come up with new safety measures within 10 months.

Under the regulatory system overseen by its predecessor, however, the 10 regional utilities were required to check the ability of reactors to withstand quakes and tsunami through stress tests introduced in response to the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The first stage of the tests examined the possibility of natural disasters damaging reactor cores, while the second stage gauged how much radioactive fallout might be discharged into the environment by such events. Reactors had to pass the first stage to be considered for reactivation, and results for 30 reactors were submitted before the NRA was launched.

It is unclear what will happen to that requirement under the new watchdog. Morimoto said the NRA has yet to decide how the results of stress test will be reflected in its new safety standards.



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The Japan Times

Article 7 of 14 in National news

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