TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Kyushu Electric Power Co is likely to delay the restart of a nuclear plant by several months as it makes checks related to the data-fabrication scandal that has engulfed Kobe Steel Ltd, the Nikkei business daily reported on Wednesday. That comes as Japanese nuclear operators have been checking the safety of Kobe Steel products used at nuclear plants at the request of the regulator. A delay would mark the first direct impact on reactor restarts from the Kobe Steel scandal, raising worries over similar delays in restarts at other nuclear plants, the Nikkei said. The paper cited a senior company official as the source for its information on the possible delay in the Kyushu restart. Japan’s third-largest steelmaker, which supplies producers of cars, planes, trains and other products across the world, said in October that about 500 of its customers had received products with falsified specifications. The company is also a supplier to the nuclear industry, providing casings for uranium fuel rods and for spent fuel cooling units. The No.3 and No.4 reactors at Kyushu Electric’s Genkai plant in southern Japan have passed the nuclear regulator’s safety checks imposed after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and the company had been aiming to restart the No.3 reactor in January and No.4 unit in March. The checks by nuclear operators have so far found that some Kobe Steel parts are used at their nuclear plants, but that there are no safety issues because the supplied products were not made at factories that engaged in fabrication. A Kyushu Electric spokesman told Reuters that the company had not yet changed the schedule for the Genkai restart, but added that the utility had told the regulator in mid-November that checks on the use of Kobe Steel products would take about a month. Many of Japan’s reactors are still going through a relicensing process following the 2011 Fukushima disaster. So far, only five of 42 commercial reactors have resumed power generation after all of the country’s reactors were idled.
(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori)