Japan nuclear regulator approves plan to keep old reactors online

Japan's nuclear regulator has approved for the first time a plan drawn up by a utility company to manage its nuclear reactors that are over 30 years old, under the country's new system to keep aging reactors online.

Japan revised its law last year to allow nuclear reactors to remain operational beyond the previous 60-year cap.

In response, the Nuclear Regulation Authority introduced a system requiring the formulation and approval of management plans at intervals not exceeding 10 years for reactors that have been in operation for 30 years or more.

The authority on Wednesday discussed the management plan submitted by the Kansai Electric Power Company for the No.3 and No.4 reactors at the Ohi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan.

The plan specifies methods for understanding the condition of equipment deterioration up to 40 years after the start of operation and policies for dealing with discontinued parts.

The members endorsed the plan, saying it meets their requirements.

A total of 11 nuclear reactors across Japan will have been operating for over 30 years by the time the new system is implemented in June next year.

They will need the authority's approval to stay online.

The operator of the No.1 and No.2 reactors at the Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, has also submitted its management plan for approval.