Court rules against restart of Ohi reactors

21 May 2014

A district court in Japan has ordered Kansai Electric Power Company not to restart two units at its Ohi nuclear power plant in Fukui prefecture due to public concerns. Kansai said it will appeal the ruling.

Ohi 3 and 4 460 (Kansai Electric).jpg
Ohi units 3 and 4 (Image: Kansai)

A lawsuit filed by a group of almost 200 people living within a 250km radius of the Ohi plant claimed that the plant is sited near several active seismic faults and is not adequately protected against earthquakes. Kansai, they claim, underestimated the maximum magnitude of earthquake that the units could face.

The Fukui District Court has now ruled in favour of the plaintiffs and issued an injunction against Kansai restarting Ohi units 3 and 4, which are currently undergoing safety assessments by Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) prior to restart.

At a press conference, NRA chairman Shunichi Tanaka noted that the court order applies to the restart of the reactors and not to the inspection process itself. He said, "We will continue with our examination of the Ohi plant as planned."

Kansai said that it was disappointed with the court's decision but said that it would appeal the ruling in the high court.

The regional high court in Osaka has already rejected several similar lawsuits brought by citizens' groups seeking to prevent the restart of the Ohi units. The Osaka court has said it would be inappropriate for a court to stop the restart of reactors before the NRA has completed its safety assessment of them.

Following the shut down of all of Japan's reactors after the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, Ohi 3 and 4 were given permission to resume operation in August 2012. However, the two 1180 MWe pressurized water reactors were taken offline again for NRA inspections in September 2013.

It is not yet clear when the first of the country's reactors will restart.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News