The Japan Times ran a piece yesterday that had two interesting updates:
First, Kansai Electric is attempting to get a license extension for an ancient reactor:
Kansai Electric Power Co. on Friday asked the government to approve its operation of an atomic reactor that is nearly 40 years old, after public confidence was lost in older reactors amid the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
Whether the government will accept the request is uncertain because of growing doubts about the advisability of operating old reactors and Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s recent call for phasing out nuclear power.
The reactor in question is the No. 2 unit at the utility’s Mihama plant in Fukui Prefecture. The reactor turns 39 years old on Monday.
Reactors that old do not have a good service record in Japan:
Three of Japan’s 54 reactors are more than 40 years old, including reactor 1 at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, which was crippled by the March quake and tsunami.
Reactor 1 at the Fukushima plant suffered a meltdown, one of three at the facility, and leaked radioactive substances. The building that housed it suffered one of the hydrogen explosions.
Sixteen other reactors are more than 30 years old.
Perhaps the age of Japan’s reactors proves the explanation for the second fact in the Japan Times story, that only 29% of the nation’s reactors are currently running:
Kansai Electric Power Co. halted a reactor in Fukui Prefecture for regular inspections early Friday, and was poised to suspend another later in the day.
That will leave only 16 of the nation’s 54 reactors running, adding to the power supply problems.
Moreover, one of the newly shut down Kansai reactors was closed for safety concerns:
Kansai Electric halted the Oi plant’s No. 1 reactor last Saturday when the pressure reading in its emergency core cooling system fell below the required level. The utility has yet to pinpoint how that occurred.
Here’s a link: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110723a5.html