Tepco has shut down its 13th reactor as part of a plan to close all 17
of its nuclear units by mid-April for safety checks. The reactors will
remain closed until the company has approval from local authorities to
The next reactor planned to be taken off line will be
Kashiwazaki-Kariwa 5 early in March; then Kashiwazaki-Kariwa 7 and
Fukushima I-2 at the end of March; finally Fukushima I-6 on 15 April. All
four of the Fukushima II reactors are currently off line.
Meanwhile, the government has decided to allow Tepco's
Kashiwazaki-Kariwa 3 and Chubu's Hamaoka 4 to run with cracks in core
shrouds left unrepaired. The go-ahead was given on the condition that the
cracks would come under the government's regular facility inspections.
It is the first time that the Nuclear Industrial and Safety Agency
(NISA) has permitted a reactor to operate without cracks repaired, in line
with a recent policy. Under this policy, adopted at the end of December,
operators could resume operating damaged reactors if their safety could be
ensured for a period of five years and inspections made regularly.
Resumption of the reactors now hinges on whether the utilities manage
to win support from local governments and residents.