Japan to set age limits on nuclear reactors

Japanese officials say they will require nuclear reactors in the country to shut down after 40 years of use to improve safety.

News reports said the government planned to introduce legislation to require reactors to stop running after 40 years after an earthquake and tsunami caused a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011. The law may reportedly contain a loophole that allows older reactors to continue operating if their safety is confirmed with tests.

The three Fukushima Daiichi reactors that went into meltdown were built starting in 1967, reports said, but there is no direct correlation between the age of the reactors and the accident. Many of the 54 reactors in Japan will reach the 40-year mark soon.

Japan does not currently have a limit on years of operation. The country reportedly had planned to expand the nuclear program before theaccident and has since ordered reactors currently undergoing routine inspections to have new tests and get community approval before restarting.

Officials with Tokyo Electric Power Co., the owner of the Daiichi plant, brought the damaged reactors to a cold shutdown state and is now moving on with decommissioning work. Decommissioning is expected to take up to 40 years to complete.

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