Oi No. 3 reactor restarted after 4½ yrs

Jiji Press OI, Fukui (Jiji Press) — Kansai Electric Power Co. restarted the No. 3 reactor at its Oi nuclear power station in Fukui Prefecture on Wednesday, about 4½ years after the reactor was halted for routine checkups.

The Oi reactor was the sixth to go back online under new regulatory standards introduced in Japan following the March 2011 meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s tsunami-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Kansai Electric plans to reactivate the No. 4 unit at the Oi plant in the central Japan prefecture in mid-May and then carry out an electricity price cut.

On Wednesday, the Oi plant operator started work to pull out control rods, which stop nuclear fission reactions when fully inserted, from the No. 3 reactor at 5 p.m.

The reactor was expected to reach criticality, or a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, around 3 a.m. Thursday and begin power generation and transmission Friday.

Kansai Electric aims to shift the reactor to commercial operations mode early next month.

The company, however, faces a need to consider how to respond if accidents occur simultaneously at its Oi and Takahama nuclear plants, only 13.5 kilometers apart from each other. In the Takahama plant, the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors are in operation.

In July 2012, the government allowed Kansai Electric to restart the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Oi plant, in order to cover possible electricity shortages during the summer.Speech

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