22 October 2015

Second Reactor Restarts in Japan

Second Reactor Restarts in Japan

Thursday, 22 October 2015

The second Japanese nuclear reactor to generate power in nearly two years was connected to the grid on 21 October 2015. The thirty-year old Sendai-2 reactor, owned by Kyushu Electric Power Company and located in Kagoshima prefecture in southern Japan, was shut down in September 2011 following the Fukushima Daiichi accident. Control rods were removed to begin operation on 15 October 2015. Kyushu Electric plans to progressively raise the power output to its full capacity of 890 MW capacity within ten days. Commercial operation is scheduled for November 2015 following final inspection by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA). In its last year of full operation in 2010, Sendai-2 generated 5.7 TWh of electrical output.

Kyushu Electric President, Michiaki Uriu, in statement said: “We have resolved never to allow an accident such as that which occurred at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.”

The restart of Sendai-2 leaves 23 reactors under review by the NRA (see Japanese Nuclear Reactor Status). Sendai-1 was reconnected to the grid on 14 August 2015.

While the NRA has reviewed and approved restart of both Sendai reactors, local citizens and their lawyers are currently in an appeal process against restart. In April 2015 the Kagoshima District court dismissed an injunction request brought by Kagoshima citizens, which included evidence of screening out severe seismic risks and failure to thoroughly assess volcanic ash impacts on critical plant functions. The appeal process is expected to conclude during November 2015, with a court decision due shortly afterwards.

Kyushu Electric is expected to return to profit for the first time in five years by end of fiscal year 2015, with the resumption of reactor operations at Sendai. The company sustained a 114.6 billion yen (US$955 million) net loss for the year ending March 2015. Each running reactor at the site is reported by Nikkei to increase Kyushu Electric’s monthly profit by 7.5 billion yen and the utility is expecting a total profit boost of 90 billion yen for the year ending 30 March 2016.