20 June 2018

Genkai‑4 Reconnected to Japanese Grid After 6.5‑Year Outage

Genkai-4 Reconnected to Japanese Grid After 6.5-Year Outage

WNISR, 20 June 2018

The Genkai-4 PWR was reconnected to the grid 20 June 2018, six and a half years after it shut down in December 2011. The 1180 MWe reactor, owned by the Kyushu Electric Power Company, is located in Genkai town, Saga Prefecture in southern Kyushu. Restart of the Genkai reactor had been delayed by two months due to the Kobe Steel scandal, where parts supplied to Kyushu Electric, amongst many others, were required to be checked prior to restart. It is Kyushu Electric’s fourth reactor to resume operations, after Genkai-3 and Sendai units 1&2. Both Genkai units 3&4 passed Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) basic design approval in January 2017 and detailed design approval in August 2017.

Local approval for restart was secured for Genkai in April 2017. However, four of the eight municipalities in three prefectures (Saga, Fukuoka and Nagasaki) within 30 km of the Genkai plant had expressed opposition to restart. On 20 March 2018, the Saga District Court rejected a temporary injunction against the restart of Genkai units 3&4. A group of about 70 citizens in Saga and four other prefectures had filed a request for the provisional injunction in January 2017. The residents filed evidence that Kyushu Electric had underestimated the potential impact of earthquakes and volcano eruptions on the plant. NRA safety guidelines require a volcano assessment for all volcanoes within a 160-kilometer radius from nuclear plants. The active volcano Mount Aso is 130 km from Genkai. Kyushu Electric stated, there would be a low probability that the volcano will erupt, while the plant is in operation, which the court accepted, and that the plant would have appropriate safety measures to meet seismic impacts. The plaintiffs are planning to appeal to the Fukuoka High Court.

The restart of Genkai-4 brings to nine the number of reactors that have resumed operation in Japan, since applying for NRA safety review in July 2013. Six reactors are currently operating, four owned by Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO), including Ohi-4, which restarted on 11 May 2018; Kyushu Electrics Sendai-1 and -2 are in extended outage for maintenance and Shikoku Electric Power Company’s Ikata-3, which was in maintenance outage at the time, was ordered shutdown in December 2017 by the Hiroshima High Court due to inadequate defense against volcanic eruption. This means that 28 reactors remain in Long Term Outage (LTO) since none of these have generated electricity during recent years. WNISR considers that all 10 Fukushima units are closed and will never restart.