A video taken on March 26 from an Asahi Shimbun helicopter shows Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata nuclear plant in Ehime Prefecture. (Video by Masahiko Ideo)

IKATA, Ehime Prefecture--Shikoku Electric Power Co. will scrap the aging No. 2 reactor at its Ikata nuclear power plant as the safety costs to extend its life another two decades were deemed too high.

The utility’s decision on March 27 appears to be based on its estimate that it would be unprofitable to resume operations at the plant with the safety measures at nearly 200 billion yen ($1.89 billion).

Shikoku Electric Power considered the resumption of operations in terms of both technology and profitability. The operator viewed that technological problems would be solvable; however, the economic viability was too much to overcome.

After balancing the potential benefits and the construction costs for the safety measures, the utility decided to decommission its No. 2 reactor.

The No. 2 reactor has been shut down since January 2012 when it halted operations for regular inspections after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 triggered an accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Shikoku Electric Power set a timetable on deciding whether to scrap the reactor, which went online in 1982 and will mark 40 years of operation in 2022, by the end of March.

Under the current safety regulations instituted in 2013, electric power companies can operate reactors for up to 40 years, in principle, and then obtain an extension for a maximum of 20 years if approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

The No. 2 reactor has an output of 566 megawatts, which is smaller than that of reactors that have received approval to extend their operational lives.

The reactor is the ninth reactor to be scrapped in Japan after the Fukushima accident, excluding the six reactors of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The No. 1 reactor of the Ikata nuclear power plant was shut down in 2016. The utility is seeking to restart the plant's No. 3 reactor, which would be Shikoku Electric’s only nuclear reactor. The No. 3 reactor is about 23 years old and has an output of 890 megawatts.