NIIGATA: Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority on Wednesday officially approved Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s construction plan for an antiterrorism facility for the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors at the firm’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, central Japan.
The No. 7 reactor’s main facility has already passed the NRA safety screening needed for its restart and TEPCO had been working on bringing the reactor back online.
The NRA, however, issued a de facto ban in April last year on operations at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant after a series of security flaws came to light at the plant. The problems included the firm’s failure to repair malfunctioning equipment to detect intruders.
In such circumstances, it was questioned whether it would be appropriate for the NRA to proceed with its examination of the firm’s plan for the antiterrorism facility’s construction. In July this year, however, the authority approved a draft report stating that the construction plan met new safety standards the country introduced after the March 2011 triple meltdown at TEPCO’s tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima.
At a regular meeting of the NRA on Wednesday, its chairman, Toyoshi Fuketa, said that the approval of the construction plan for the antiterrorism facility “was to confirm whether TEPCO’s basic plan is appropriate, and (it) has nothing to do with the possible removal of the order (banning the plant’s operations.)”
Another NRA official noted that the antiterrorism facility is designed for improving safety in times of emergency.
The construction of the facility is “a separate matter from the nuclear security problems that are under inspection,” the official said, adding, “We must check (the security problems) strictly.”
An antiterrorism facility is built for injecting water into and cooling down nuclear reactors from a remote location if the central control room of a nuclear power plant is destroyed in a terror attack, such as one using a large airplane.
A nuclear reactor cannot be put into operation if the antiterrorism facility is not installed within a certain period of time after the reactor’s main facility passes the NRA’s screening.