New nuclear regulatory body to check fault under Oi plant
Tokyo(Kyodo): Japan`s new nuclear regulatory authority will conduct an on-site inspection in late October to confirm whether there is an active fault underneath the only nuclear power plant operating in the quake-prone country, sources close to the matter said.
The Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co`s Oi power plant have been allowed to remain online despite the existence of a suspicious fault, with the Nuclear Regulation Authority`s predecessor saying it was highly unlikely that the fault would undermine the safety of the reactors.
But if the newly launched regulatory commission judges differently, it could be difficult to continue operation of the reactors in western Japan.
NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said prior to assuming his post that he expects the two reactors to be halted if an active fault is found.
A source close to the organization said the NRA should show it is not just "rubber-stamping" the current situation and that it wants to reach a conclusion on the matter by the end of the year at the latest.
Japan has 50 commercial reactors, but only the two reactors at the Oi plant were put back online to address power shortage concerns in the summer.
Public concern remains strong over the safety of nuclear power in the wake of last year`s Fukushima Daiichi power plant disaster and the government has included a goal to end nuclear power generation in the 2030s in its new energy strategy.
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