March 27, 2018 / 8:19 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Japan's Shikoku Electric to scrap 1 nuclear reactor

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TOKYO, March 27 (Reuters) - Japan’s Shikoku Electric Power Co Inc said on Tuesday it will decommission an ageing reactor at its Ikata nuclear plant as the country’s power industry struggles to meet new nuclear safety standards set after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

The announcement brings to 15 the number of reactors being scrapped since the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant more than seven years ago.

The move comes as Japan’s return to nuclear power is slowly gathering pace, although the industry still faces public opposition, court challenges and unfavourable economics.

Shikoku Electric will scrap the No. 2 reactor at the Ikata plant, about 720 km (450 miles) west of Tokyo. The reactor began operations in 1982 with a capacity of 566 megawatts but has been shut since 2012.

The decision took into account factors including the cost of reinforcing work to meet new safety standards and the need to extend the reactor’s operations after a standard operating life of 40 years, the company said in a statement.

Shikoku Electric earlier decided to scrap the No.1 reactor at Ikata, while a Japanese court in December ordered the utility not to restart the No.3 reactor, overturning a lower court decision. The No.3 reactor has been idled for maintenance since October 2017 after resuming operations in 2016.

Just five reactors are currently operating out of 40 commercially viable units. All reactors in Japan had to be relicensed following the 2011 Fukushima disaster which highlighted shortcomings in regulation.

Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; editing by Richard Pullin

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