Japan Atomic Power Co. has agreed to donate about 700 million yen ($7.5 million) in fiscal 2013 to the city of Tsuruga for the construction of a road between the city's center and the utility's idled Tsuruga nuclear power plant, according to a source close to the city government.
The agreement came after it became highly likely that the plant’s No. 2 reactor will be decommissioned as the Nuclear Regulation Authority has determined that a seismic fault beneath the reactor building is probably active.
Japan Atomic Power owns the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors of the Tsuruga plant in Fukui Prefecture, and the reactor of the Tokai No. 2 plant in Ibaraki Prefecture. All three reactors have been offline mainly due to the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
Some prefectural assembly members said Japan Atomic Power promised to cover the entire cost of the 3.8-kilometer road around 2002, at a time the city agreed to the construction of No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Tsuruga plant.
Due to the March 11 quake, however, there are no expectations that the construction of the Tsuruga No. 3 and No. 4 reactors will ever break ground.
“As the plant operator, we will shoulder an appropriate amount of the road construction costs because it will be useful as a means of access to the plant in the event of a nuclear disaster as well as be convenient for local residents," a Japan Atomic Power representative said.
But there are no prospects of Japan Atomic Power’s three reactors--including the two at the Tsuruga plant--being brought back online.
It has been 42 years since the Tsuruga No. 1 reactor was first operational, exceeding the 40-year threshold the NRA is considering for decommissioning.
As for the Tsuruga No. 2 reactor, the regulation authority in January compiled a draft report that recognizes high possibilities of a fault directly under the reactor building being an active one. The reactor will highly likely be decommissioned.
Japan Atomic Power is objecting to the draft report, saying, “The draft is unacceptable.”
Despite its three nuclear reactors being shut down, Japan Atomic Power has been receiving “basic fees” from five utilities--including Kansai Electric Power Co.-- through electricity sales contracts.
Kansai Electric, which filed an application to raise power rates, has announced that it will exclude contributions to local governments hosting nuclear plants and other related bodies from “costs” to calculate power rates, starting in fiscal 2013.
Even so, the utility does include the fees it pays to Japan Atomic Power into the costs, raising concerns that power rates paid by individuals and businesses could be used for the donations.
Prefectural assembly members said the city of Tsuruga received 440 million yen between the fiscal 2009 construction start and fiscal 2011 from Japan Atomic Power, and is expected to collect 1.08 billion yen at the end of March as the fiscal 2012 donation.
Around 700 million yen in contributions for fiscal 2013 was agreed upon in February, sources said.
Donations for fiscal 2014 and 2015 are undecided. The road is planned to be completed in fiscal 2015.
Elsewhere, Japan Atomic Power's idle Tokai No. 2 plant has been facing increasing local opposition.
(This article was written by Hideki Muroya and Satoshi Otani.)
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