NRA conducts on-site inspection at Oi nuclear plant

The Nuclear Regulation Authority conducted an on-site inspection Saturday at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Oi nuclear plant to assess whether its two reactors can meet new safety requirements coming into force in July.

A team of inspectors, including NRA Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa, examined the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors, the nation's sole operating reactors, in Fukui Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast.

The NRA set up an investigative panel after the outline of the new safety standards was compiled in April to examine whether Kansai Electric sufficiently prepares for emergencies, such as earthquake and tsunami.

While the panel will report the outcome of its assessment to the NRA later this month, the authority will allow the two reactors to remain online through September -- when they have to undergo mandatory routine checkups -- if it does not see any serious safety problems.

All of Japan's nuclear reactors were temporarily offline in the wake of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi complex in March 2011, but the two reactors at the Oi plant were reactivated in July last year because they cleared provisional safety standards created by the government at that time.

The two, however, have to be checked to determine whether they can meet the new safety requirements to continue operating until their routine checkup period.

As for other reactors, utilities are expected to apply for their restart after the new requirements take effect in July.