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Aging Tokai No. 2 reactor should be scrapped, not restarted

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The nation's nuclear watchdog on Nov. 7 formally approved a 20-year operating extension of the Tokai No. 2 nuclear power plant in Ibaraki Prefecture, which is approaching the end of its 40-year legal life span.

The decision by the Nuclear Regulation Authority effectively marks the end of government-mandated technical screening to allow Japan Atomic Power Co. to bring the offline plant back on stream.

But all sorts of questions and concerns remain.

There is not a good rationale for extending the life of the aging and currently idled single-reactor nuclear plant, which is located in the densely populated Tokyo metropolitan area.

Given the difficulties of evacuating the large population in surrounding areas if a serious accident occurs at the plant, the reactor should not be permitted to resume operations.

The rule that nuclear reactors should not in principle be allowed to operate for more than 40 years is designed to ensure that facilities based on outdated designs will be duly retired. This is a key component of the new stricter safety regulations introduced in the aftermath of the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011.

The life of a reactor can be extended by up to 20 years if approved by........

© The Asahi Shimbun