An application has been filed to build the third reactor at Japan’s Sendai nuclear power plant, with the utility hoping for operation in 2019.

Kyushu Electric Power Company announced the submission yesterday. It has been working on plans for Sendai 3 for about ten years, when discussions and studies involving Kagoshima Prefecture began. The governor of the region officially approved the expansion in November last year, one month before the development was designated a ’key power source development’ for Japan by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Meti).

That ministry’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency will now begin to review Kyushu’s application, taking advice from a specialist nuclear safety committee which will hold public hearings. Input will also come from a strategically-focused committee. Separately, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology must also approve the plan.

Given all those approvals Kyushu could then go through the relatively short process to gain approval to begin construction, with work starting almost immediately upon receipt. That is expected in calendar year 2014, with operation beginning five years later.

The result should be a Mitsubishi Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor (APWR) producing 1590 MWe. It will go alongside two other PWRs at Sendai which have operated there since the mid-1980s. Kyushu said the new unit would benefit from sharing handling facilities for nuclear fuel and operational wastes with the existing reactors.

The new unit will require Kyushu to reclaim a certain amount of land but steps have been taken to minimise this. In addition, the appearance of the new unit’s sea wall will be sculpted and greened to avoid adverse impact on sea turtles and appear more like a beach to them.

Two other APWRs are planned for Japan Atomic Power Company’s Tsuruga power plant, while a US version of the design was presented to safety regulators last year. A version for the EU is also under development.

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