Injunction halts operation of Takahama units

09 March 2016

A district court today imposed a temporary injunction against the operation of units 3 and 4 of Kansai Electric Power Company's Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui prefecture. Kansai said unit 3 will be shut down tomorrow, while unit 4 is currently not in operation.

In late January 2015, 29 residents of Shiga prefecture - part of which lies within 30 kilometres of the Takahama plant - filed a petition with the Otsu District Court for a temporary injunction against operation of Takahama 3 and 4. Four hearings were subsequently held. The court's presiding judge Yoshihiko Yamamoto today ruled that the safety of the units cannot be guaranteed - despite Japan's nuclear regulator saying they meet revised safety standards - and issued an injunction against their operation.

In a statement, Kansai said that since the petition was filed it has "been requesting dismissal of the petition while claiming and substantiating on the basis of scientific and professional findings that safety of the power station is ensured, including the contents of our explanation at the review meetings." It added, "It is extremely deplorable that our assertion was not understood well by the court, which we can hardly accept."

Takahama 3 and 4 - 250 (Kansai)
Takahama units 3 and 4 (Image: Kansai)

Kansai said it will immediately start the procedure for submitting an appeal against the injunction "after examining the details of the written decision". It said it will make "an all-out effort to assert and substantiate the safety of units 3 and 4 of the Takahama nuclear power plant in order to have the provisional disposition order revoked as early as possible".

Takahama 3 and 4 were taken offline for periodic inspections in February 2012 and July 2011, respectively. As with all other Japanese reactors, they were then kept offline until it was determined they met new safety standards introduced in July 2013 in response to the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Kansai submitted a joint application to the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) in July 2013 for the necessary permissions to restart both units. These approvals include making changes to the reactor installations; its construction plan to strengthen the plant; and its operational safety programs for the units.

The NRA gave Kansai approval in February 2015 to make changes to the reactor installations at both units. That approval - which meant the NRA considered the two reactors, and the plant as a whole, to be safe for operation - represented by far the major part of the licensing process. Approval of the company's construction plan for unit 3 was given in August, while that for unit 4 was given in October together with approval for Kansai's operational safety plans for the Takahama plant.

Following pre-start-up inspections by the NRA, Takahama 3 was restarted on 29 January. Unit 4 was restarted on 26 February, but has remained offline since 29 February following an automatic shutdown of the reactor due to a "main transformer/generator internal failure". Kansai has since been investigating the cause of that shut down.

The company said it would comply with the injunction by taking Takahama 3 offline. Kansai said it will begin shutdown operations at the unit at around 10:00am tomorrow and that the unit would be offline by 10:00pm.

"It is not possible to estimate the impact of this provisional disposition on performance at present because it is unknown when the provisional disposition order will be revoked and operation of Takahama units 3 and 4 is resumed," Kansai said.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News