Rule amendment to allow extended operation of Japanese reactors

TOKYO, Dec 22 ( - Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has approved a draft of a new rule that would allow the country's nuclear power reactors to be operated for more than the current limit of 60 years. The amendment will require parliamentary approval.

Under regulations which came into force in July 2013, Japanese reactors have a nominal operating period of 40 years. One extension to this - limited to a maximum of 20 years - may be granted, requiring amongst other things a special inspection to verify the integrity of reactor pressure vessels and containment vessels after 35 years of operation.

At a 21 December meeting, the NRA outlined a new rule under which it will evaluate the deterioration level and safety of nuclear reactors in service for 30 years or more, starting in the 30th year of operation and continuing once per decade or less thereafter. The NRA will then approve or deny continued operation for a further ten years.

The NRA will require reactor operators to submit a long-term plan to manage the condition of their facilities togther with details of measures needed to control equipment deterioration. ...continue reading

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