August 3, 2016 / 12:03 PM / 3 years ago

CORRECTED-Japan reactor passes new safety standards

(Corrects Aug. 3 story to say reactor met safety standards, not that it obtained formal approval to extend operations)

TOKYO, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Japan’s nuclear regulator said on Wednesday that the No. 3 reactor at the Mihama plant operated by Kansai Electric Power Co Inc met new safety standards imposed after the Fukushima disaster in 2011, paving the way for the reactor to win approval to continue operating beyond 40 years.

The approval marks the second instance of a green light for new safety standards at ageing Japanese nuclear plants that are around 40 years of age.

If the Mihama No.3 reactor, which turns 40 in December, passes a review of anti-ageing measures by the end of November, it can receive formal authorisation to operate beyond the 40-year span. The first such approval, in June, was granted to Kansai Electric’s ageing reactors No.1 and 2 at its Takahama plant.

The reactor has been shut down since 2011 and a restart will not happen immediately as Kansai Electric needs to carry out safety upgrades at a cost of about 165 billion yen ($1.63 billion).

The upgrades involve fire proofing cabling and other measures and are planned to be completed in March 2020, a company spokesman said.

Opinion polls consistently show opposition to nuclear power following Fukushima. Critics say regulators have failed to take into account lessons learned after a massive earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

$1 = 101.2400 yen Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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