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Court rejects bid to suspend nuclear reactors in Takahama

Court rejects bid to suspend nuclear reactors in Takahama https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14569930

By HARUKA ONO/ Staff Writer, March 11, 2022   NAGOYA–The Nagoya District Court on March 10 dismissed a citizens’ request that the government order Kansai Electric Power Co. to halt two reactors at its Takahama nuclear power plant as a safety precaution.

Nine plaintiffs from Fukui, Aichi and three other prefectures filed a lawsuit against the government seeking to suspend the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the facility in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture.

They argued that the nuclear power plant’s disaster-prevention countermeasures for dealing with ash from volcanic eruptions are insufficient.

“(The government) did not deviate from its discretion for not having ordered the suspension,” said Presiding Judge Tomohiro Hioki.

After the 2011 triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the government’s regulatory authority introduced a new “backfit” provision.

That requires utilities to prepare countermeasures for issues that have emerged after new findings, such as the effects natural disasters can have on their existing nuclear power plants. It also allows the regulator to halt reactors if they do not meet its standards.

This marks the first judicial ruling over the backfit provision.

In June 2019, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority issued backfit orders for seven reactors at three Kansai Electric nuclear power plants, including the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors in Takahama.

The regulator contended that Kansai Electric had not taken sufficient measures against volcanic ash in the event of an eruption at Mount Daisen in Tottori Prefecture.

But it did not order Kansai Electric to halt its reactors on the grounds that there is no imminent risk of eruption.

“Mount Daisen is not categorized as an active volcano, so the NRA’s decision not to order the suspension was not a deviation from or abuse of discretion,” the district court ruling said.

The regulator had decided on its response after it was briefed by Kansai Electric, and did not establish a deadline for completing the countermeasures. On both points, the court ruled that the regulator’s actions were legal.

But on the other hand, the court also accepted some of the arguments made by the plaintiffs.

The presiding judge said that in the current situation, with the anti-volcanic measures not yet completed, the plant “holds realistic possibilities of safety deficiencies” and also “has some risk of receiving significant damage.”

March 12, 2022 - Posted by | Japan, Legal

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