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Court rules a third time against Takahama reactors

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The No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Takahama Nuclear Power Plant, from left to right, are pictured in this photo taken from a Mainichi helicopter in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, on June 15, 2016.

 

 

OTSU, SHIGA PREF. – The Otsu District Court ruled against Kansai Electric Power Co. for the third time in five months Tuesday, in a decision that will keep its Takahama No. 3 and 4 reactors in Fukui Prefecture shut down indefinitely.

Both sides are now gearing up for an appeal by Kepco to the Osaka High Court, where a decision could come next year, while the plaintiffs are expected to file further suits.

The utility had filed an objection to the Otsu court’s March decision, which granted a temporary injunction on the reactors, forcing Kepco to shut them down about two months after they had been restarted.

The court reaffirmed its decision in June and again made the same ruling on Tuesday after Kepco fought the June decision.

The utility was not arguing that both reactors were safe based on expert evidence and reasonable safety standards, but that they were safe due to detailed assertions directly related to their safety and prima facie evidence,” said presiding Judge Yoshihiko Yamamoto, the same judge who has twice ruled against Kepco. “However, the new safety standards haven’t drawn the limits of what dangers should be accepted by society.”

Representatives for the plaintiffs welcomed the ruling.

Once again, the Otsu court has ruled against the safety of restarting the reactors, especially with Lake Biwa nearby, even though Kepco has said it’ll likely appeal to the (Osaka) High Court,” said Yoshinori Tsuji, one of the chief plaintiffs.

The case boiled down to the basic question of what determines adequate safety for a nuclear power plant. It has raised questions about the way the Nuclear Regulation Authority is handling safety inspections for restarts.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/07/12/national/court-rules-third-time-takahama-reators/

Report: Japan court upholds injunction to halt nuclear reactors

A Japanese court on Tuesday upheld an order for the shutdown of two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co’s Takahama nuclear plant in western Japan, a Japanese news agency reported, in a widely expected ruling that prevents the utility from restarting them.

Japan’s second-biggest utility had appealed Otsu District Court’s March 9 ruling ordering it to shut the Takahama No. 3 and No. 4 units with immediate effect, which marked the first injunction to shut a nuclear plant in operation. The court last month also denied the utility’s request for a stay of execution of the injunction.

Kansai Electric is expected to appeal the latest decision to the Osaka High Court.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201607120042.html

Court again nixes appeal to restart 2 Takahama nuclear reactors

OTSU, Japan (Kyodo) — A Japanese court again disallowed the operation of two nuclear reactors Tuesday, rejecting their operator’s request to suspend an injunction the same court had issued over the once-reactivated units at the Takahama power plant in Fukui Prefecture, western Japan.

The Otsu District Court’s decision, following the injunction issued in March over the Nos. 3 and 4 units at the Kansai Electric Power Co. plant, would continue to legally prevent the Osaka-based utility from restarting operation of the reactors on the Sea of Japan coast about 380 kilometers west of Tokyo.

Kansai Electric plans to appeal the decision to the Osaka High Court, company officials said.

In June, the district court also rejected the plant operator’s appeal to temporarily void the effects of the injunction, with public concerns lingering over the restart of nuclear power plants in Japan in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster.

Tuesday’s decision was issued under the same presiding judge, Yoshihiko Yamamoto, who made the judgments in March and June.

The March injunction was the first of its kind affecting operating reactors. One of the reactors was taken offline one day after the order. The other reactor was already offline.

The Takahama plant has cleared the post-Fukushima safety regulations, allowing Kansai Electric to reactivate the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors. But their operation was beset with problems.

Kansai Electric has announced it will remove fuels from the two nuclear power reactors in August, even though Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has expressed a desire to ramp up nuclear power generation at home.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160712/p2g/00m/0dm/067000c

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July 12, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Kepco loses challenge to Takahama nuclear injunction

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Residents on Friday hold a banner that reads: “Kepco’s request has been rejected; Court rejects restart of Takahama reactors.” The protesters are seen in front of the Otsu District Court in Shiga Prefecture.

The Otsu District Court on Friday rejected a bid by Kansai Electric Power Co. to lift an injunction against restarting reactors at a nearby plant, dealing yet another setback to attempts by the utility and the central government to return swiftly to nuclear power.

The move means the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Takahama nuclear plant, in Fukui Prefecture, will remain idled.

In a statement, Kepco condemned the court’s action.

In his decision, Judge Yoshihiko Yamamoto said Kepco failed to provide sufficient evidence to back up its claims that the two reactors were safe.

“The very first article of the law that established the Nuclear Regulation Authority says a fundamental point of Japan’s nuclear power administration is clearly establishing the understanding that the maximum effort must be made at all times to prevent an accident involving the use of nuclear power,” said Yamamoto. “But unless the operator shows that there is nothing lacking in regards to safety, it’s presumed some safety points are lacking.”

The decision was welcomed by citizens’ groups fighting the restart of the two reactors, but it was also expected. Yamamoto was the same judge who had granted their initial request back in March that shut down the reactors, also citing a lack of convincing evidence on the part of Kepco that the plants were safe. The reactors were originally restarted at the beginning of the year.

“It was a just decision, very direct. We hope it will provide a spark to other legal efforts in other parts of Japan to stop nuclear power plants from being restarted,” Yoshinori Tsuji said after the ruling. Tsuji was one of the plaintiffs who filed for an injunction in March.

Legal wrangling over the two reactors continues. Kepco has filed a separate legal challenge to the Otsu court’s decision, and said Friday it hoped that when that ruling came, possibly in July or August, it will lead to restarts.

Shiga residents seeking to keep the reactors offline have said Friday’s decision did not mean their court battles were over.

“If the Otsu court rules against Kepco, it could end up in the Osaka High Court, possibly next year,” said Hidenori Sugihara, another one of the plaintiffs who sought the injunction.

The Otsu court case has demonstrated the difficulty of restarting nuclear power plants in a timely manner. Under laws drawn up by the NRA that went into effect in 2012, localities within a 30 kilometer radius of a nuclear power plant are supposed to establish evacuation plans in the event of an emergency.

But the expanded radius has greatly increased the number of local governments and residents who are concerned about a rush by the utilities to restart as many plants as possible.

In the Kansai region, where parts of Kyoto and Shiga prefectures lie within 30 kilometers of Fukui Prefecture’s plants, lawsuits by residents like the one in Otsu have the potential to slow down, if not halt, Kepco’s plans for restarts.

The original injunction was brought by Shiga residents who fear an accident at the plant would have a damaging impact on Lake Biwa, the nation’s largest freshwater lake and the source of water for about 14 million residents in cities such as Kyoto and Osaka.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/17/national/crime-legal/kepco-fails-suspend-injunction-takahama-nuclear-plant/#.V2e1E_ZLJ0t.facebook

June 20, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment