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Court rejects calls to halt Kansai Electric’s aging nuclear reactor

People hold banners to call for appealing a ruling by the Osaka District Court after the court rejected residents’ call for suspending an aging reactor.

Dec 20, 2022

Osaka – The Osaka District Court on Tuesday rejected local residents’ calls to halt an aging nuclear reactor at Kansai Electric Power’s Mihama power plant in central Japan that started operations more than 40 years ago.

The court ruling marked the first judicial decision over the safety of an aging reactor. It was handed down after local residents sought suspension of the No. 3 unit of the plant in Fukui Prefecture due to safety concerns.

The decision came as the government seeks to extend the maximum service period for the country’s existing nuclear reactors beyond 60 years. The reactor is the only one that operates in Japan beyond the country’s 40-year service period in principle.

Nine residents in Fukui, Shiga and Kyoto prefectures living within a 10- to 80-kilometer radius of the plant argued the reactor would not be able to withstand a massive earthquake due to the likelihood that facilities and equipment have deteriorated over time.

Such a situation poses a risk of exposure to radiation caused by the spread of radioactive materials, the residents said, adding that the current evacuation plan is not effective, as the route passes by other nuclear plants and destination sites are located where radioactive materials could reach.

However, the court ruled that there is no problem with Kansai Electric’s safety measures against earthquakes and that steps taken against the aging of the reactor are also reasonable.

Kansai Electric had argued the safety of the reactor is ensured as it complies with the new regulatory standards established on lessons learned from the 2011 nuclear disaster that was caused by a massive earthquake and tsunami.

In June 2021, the No. 3 unit became the first nuclear reactor to operate beyond 40 years under the new rules that limit a reactor’s service period to 40 years in principle, although it can be extended by up to 20 years if approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

The unit was halted just four months after being restarted as it failed to implement anti-terrorism measures in time and also suffered a water leakage before being started up again on Aug. 30 this year. It resumed operations on Sept. 26.

Units No. 1 and 2 of the Mihama plant were terminated in April 2015 in line with the 40-year limit.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/12/20/national/crime-legal/mihama-ruling/

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January 5, 2023 - Posted by | Fuk 2022, Fuk 2023 | , ,

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