Operational ban lifted on world's largest nuclear plant in Japan. Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, a nuclear power station owned and operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), was permitted to resume operations on Wednesday, after having been prohibited from doing so for the previous two years. This verdict gives the power firm the ability to seek consent from the local government to restart the facility.
TEPCO is eager to revive the largest nuclear power station in the world to minimize the costs associated with its operations. It is important to note that the resumption of operations is dependent upon getting authorization from the local authorities of Niigata prefecture, Kashiwazaki City, and Kariwa village, which is the location of the facility. There is still a lack of clarity around the timing of the possible restart.
As a result of the Fukushima accident that occurred the year before, the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power station, which has a capacity of 8,212 megawatts (MW), has been offline since 2012. This is because the disaster caused the shutdown of all nuclear power facilities in Japan at that time.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) issued a prohibition in 2021 that prevented TEPCO from running Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, which was the company's only operational nuclear power station. As a result of safety violations, such as the insufficient protection of nuclear materials and situations in which an unauthorized member of the crew gained access to sensitive areas of the facility, this decision was made.
Tokyo Electric Power Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear power plant seen from the seaside
As a result of improvements made to the safety management system, the National Rifle Association (NRA) lifted a corrective action order on Wednesday. TEPCO was previously forbidden from transferring fresh uranium fuel to the facility or loading fuel rods into its reactors as a result of this injunction, which severely hampered any efforts to resume operations.
TEPCO has stated that it is committed to re-establishing trust within the local community as well as society as a whole in reaction to the ruling. Also, the top cabinet secretary of Japan reaffirmed the government's commitment to maintaining its support for the process.
The government will seek the understanding and cooperation of Niigata prefecture and local communities, emphasizing 'safety-first.'- Yoshimasa Hayashi, the government's top spokesperson
Due to the scarcity of resources to reduce its reliance on imported fossil fuels, particularly liquefied natural gas (LNG), Japan is making concerted efforts to bring back into operation a great number of its nuclear power facilities.
Recent projections made by the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ) indicate that the nation's imports of LNG are anticipated to drop to 58.5 million metric tons for the fiscal year 2024/25. This figure represents a significant fall from the estimated 64 million tons that were imported during the current year. When this reduction is taken into consideration, it takes into account the predicted restarting of multiple nuclear reactors as well as an increase in the use of renewable energy sources.
Following an on-site inspection and a meeting with the company's president, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) hinted earlier this month that it would study the potential of lifting the operational prohibition. This resulted in a huge increase in the price of TEPCO shares, which enjoyed a significant spike.