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Japan’s nuclear legal battles drag on – putting nuclear restart in doubt

justiceflag-japanNuclear power in Japan Legal fallout Court cases frustrate efforts to restart Japan’s nuclear plants, Economists Apr 25th 2015 | NIIGATA  “……….the seven reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa complex sit idle, along with the rest of Japan’s nuclear-power facilities. Four years after meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant, all Japan’s 48 usable reactors are the focus of safety concerns. An industry that once produced nearly a third of Japan’s electricity remains paralysed……..

confidence in restarting the reactors may be misplaced. Every one of them is the subject of a lawsuit by locals trying to stop them from being fired up again. The government and the energy utilities will continue to argue that although they cannot completely rule out another accident, they have made nuclear power as safe as possible. By rejecting that argument, the Fukui court has set a precedent other courts may follow, says Mutsuyoshi Nishimura, a former climate-change negotiator.

Kansai Electric has challenged the Fukui ruling. Experts say the company will very likely get a higher court to overturn it. But the longer legal tussles drag on, the older the reactors become, putting their eventual operation in doubt. The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), Japan’s new watchdog, is reviewing about 20 reactors for compliance with its regulations. Luc Oursel, the late chief executive of Areva, a French nuclear giant, predicted in 2013 that two-thirds of Japan’s plants would eventually restart. Few believe that now.

For Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), the operator of the ruined Fukushima plant, these issues are a matter of life and death. Kashiwazaki-Kariwa is its only remaining viable nuclear facility. The company says it loses ¥100 billion ($835m) per reactor every year that the reactors are down. The plant’s chief, Tadayuki Yokomura, says that TEPCO has poured $2 billion into reinforcing the facility against earthquakes and tsunamis. There is, he insists, no reason why all seven reactors cannot be restarted. The problem is that he has yet to convince the public of that. http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21649557-court-cases-frustrate-efforts-restart-japans-nuclear-plants-legal-fallout

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April 25, 2015 - Posted by | Japan, Legal

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