Court halts restart of Takahama reactors

14 April 2015

The restart of units 3 and 4 of Kansai Electric Power Company's Takahama nuclear power plant, expected by the end of this year, has been blocked by a temporary injunction imposed by the Fukui District Court today. Kansai said it will appeal the ruling.

In a case citing safety concerns filed by nine local residents last December, presiding judge Hideaki Higuchi issued the injunction against the restart of the units. He said that Kansai was over-optimistic in its assumption of the largest earthquake that the units could face. The judge also criticised the safety standards set by Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), saying they were "lacking rationality".

Ohi order

In May 2014, the Fukui District Court also ruled against the restart of units 3 and 4 of Kansai's Ohi nuclear power plant due to public concerns.

A lawsuit filed by a group of almost 200 people living near the plant claimed that the plant is sited near several active seismic faults and is not adequately protected against earthquakes.

Hideaki Higuchi, also the presiding judge on that case, ruled in favour of the plaintiffs and issued an injunction against the units' restart.

Kansai has appealedĀ against thatĀ ruling in the high court.

Kansai argued that the safety of the units had been proven "on the basis of scientific and technical knowledge".

Units 3 and 4 of the Takahama plant in Fukui prefecture have remained offline since being shut for periodic inspections in February 2012 and July 2011, respectively.

Kansai first applied to the NRA for permission to restart the units in July 2013. It has since submitted various amendments to its plans - the latest being on 5 February - to increase the plant's resistance to extreme events such as earthquakes, tsunami and tornadoes, in accordance with the regulator's requirements. Such amendments have resulted from the findings of reviews carried out along the way, incorporating the details from the latest equipment designs.

In February, the NRA gave its final permission for Kansai to make the required safety upgrades at the units prior to their restart. The company reportedly aims to restart the two reactors by November. However, the two reactors must now remain idle until the court order is overturned.

Kansai said that, after studying the details of the decision statement, it will file an appeal against the court's decision "in order to keep the impact on the process towards the re-operation [of the units] to a minimum".

So far, the NRA has only approved the restart of two other reactors, granting Kyushu Electric Power Company permission to make changes to the reactor installations of Sendai units 1 and 2 in September 2014. Local and prefectural government approval has been given for their restart.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News