TEPCO to file for procedures to restart Niigata nuclear plant

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Tuesday it will file with the nuclear regulatory authority to restart two idled reactors in Niigata Prefecture after new safety regulations take effect next Monday.

To restart reactors in Japan, most of which are now offline, utilities first need to have the Nuclear Regulation Authority confirm that their facilities satisfy the new safety requirements, compiled in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Four other utilities are expected to take the step next week.

In a statement, TEPCO said it will "promptly" apply for NRA safety assessment to restart the Nos. 6 and 7 reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

TEPCO also said that its officials hope to visit Niigata Prefecture "as early as possible" to explain the application but realize restarting the reactors may not be easy as Niigata Gov. Hirohiko Izumida has been reluctant about the idea.

Restarting the seven-reactor plant is seen as key to improving the struggling utility's business conditions by reducing its spending on costly fossil fuel imports for thermal power generation.

TEPCO also needs massive funds to pay compensation related to the Fukushima Daiichi power plant disaster, triggered by a huge earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, and to scrap the crippled reactors.

TEPCO has three atomic power plants, but the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa complex -- the world's largest nuclear power plant with a combined output capacity of 8.2 million kilowatts -- is the only one not affected by the 2011 natural disasters.