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Problems ahead, if Japan restarts mothballed nuclear reactors

Japan Heads Toward Nuclear Unknown With Post-Fukushima Restarts, Bloomberg by   August 6, 2015 Japan is about to do something that’s never been done before: Restart a fleet of mothballed nuclear reactors.

The first reactor to meet new safety standards could come online as early as next week. Japan is reviving its nuclear industry four years after all its plants were shut for safety checks following the earthquake and tsunami that wrecked the Fukushima Dai-Ichi station north of Tokyo, causing radiation leaks that forced the evacuation of 160,000 people.

Mothballed reactors have been turned back on in other parts of the world, though not on this scale — 25 of Japan’s 43 reactors have applied for restart permits. One lesson learned elsewhere is that the process rarely goes smoothly. Of 14 reactors that resumed operations after four years offline, all had emergency shutdowns and technical failures, according to data from the World Nuclear Association, an industry group.

 “If reactors have been offline for a long time, there can be issues with long-dormant equipment and with ‘rusty’ operators,” Allison Macfarlane, a former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said by e-mail.

In Sweden, E.ON Sverige AB closed the No. 1 unit at its Oskarshamn plant in 1992 and restarted it in 1996. It had six emergency shutdowns in the following year and a refueling that should have taken 38 days lasted more than four months after cracks were found in equipment……..The challenges facing the NRA are “absolutely unique worldwide,” said John Large, chief executive at Large & Associates, a London-based engineering consultant to the nuclear industry. “You have had the whole nation’s fleet of nuclear power plants closed down for four years.”

Long-Dormant

As problems can arise with long-dormant reactors, the NRA “should be testing all the equipment as well as the operator beforehand in preparation,” Macfarlane of the U.S. said by e-mail. …….http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-05/japan-heads-toward-nuclear-unknown-with-post-fukushima-restarts

August 7, 2015 - Posted by | Japan, safety

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