Japan says reactor ‘stress tests’ in two phases
TOKYO – Japan said on Monday that its nuclear reactor “stress tests” will be carried out in two stages, prioritizing the 35 that are now idled, but gave no timeline for when the assessments will start.
The government last week announced the tests, modelled on similar checks in the European Union, in the aftermath of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis, the world’s worst since Chernobyl 25 years ago.
The government of Prime Minister Naoto Kan issued an official paper on the “stress tests” which said that after the idled reactors are tested, there will be a second phase of more sweeping safety tests of all reactors.
“The government will introduce a safety review based on new rules and procedures in addition to the conventional ones,” Kan’s top spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, told a press conference.
“To achieve more confidence about safety, the government will implement the additional checks as an assessment and for assurance so that we can make a judgement on restarting idled reactors.”
Edano said the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan will play a major role in carrying out the tests, Kyodo News reported.
Only 19 of Japan’s 54 reactors are running since the quake and tsunami four months ago, as local governments and residents have expressed safety concerns, worsening a power crunch in the resource-poor country.
The new details on the safety reviews raised market hopes that power shortages will ease earlier and lifted shares of Japanese utilities on Monday, with Tokyo Electric Power Co up 7.29 percent to 441 yen.