The Kansai region is Japan’s second-largest industrial area, and in normal times, its most nuclear-reliant. Before the Fukushima nuclear disaster, a band of 11 nuclear reactors — north of the major cities Osaka and Kyoto — supplied almost 50 percent of the region’s power. But as of January 2012, only one of those reactors is still running.
“I want [the government] to clarify their reasoning and the basis behind [the 40-year operating limit on nuclear reactors],” a bewildered KEPCO President Makoto Yagi said at a press conference Tuesday.
Of KEPCO’s 11 nuclear power reactors, the No. 1 reactor at its Mihama plant already reached the 40-year limit in November 2010, but is still running. The plant’s No. 2 reactor will reach the limit in July.
Yagi said: “If we, by any chance, apply for a limit extension [for reactors], we will need to go through some procedures and make technical preparations. So I hope [the government] will give us some transition time.”
On August 9, 2004, KEPCO reported that five of its employees were killed by a steam burst at the Mihama Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture. The burst, according to KEPCO, was due to the neglect of mandated safety checks.
In 2012, officials from Kansai Electric Power Co., “have gone door to door in towns that host its nuclear plants, conducting polls and answering questions”.