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Hokkaido Electric ordered not to restart its nuclear reactors

Takeichi Saito, who heads the group of plaintiffs, speaks at a news conference after the Sapporo District Court’s ruling on May 31.

May 31, 2022

SAPPORO–In a blow to Hokkaido Electric Power Co., the Sapporo District Court on May 31 ordered that the reactors at its Tomari nuclear plant remain offline.

The utility has been seeking to soon bring the plant back into operation, as surging fuel costs for thermal power plants have pushed down its revenues.

Presiding Judge Tetsuya Taniguchi cited safety concerns in the ruling, siding with a request by more than 1,000 plaintiffs from the area who raised concerns there are not sufficient safeguards to protect it from natural disasters.

“A sea wall required under the nuclear regulations does not exist,” Taniguchi said. “The plaintiffs’ right (to life) could be violated even without judging other points of contention.”

But he dismissed the plaintiffs’ demand for decommissioning the plant, saying there is no specific circumstance that would warrant it.

The court ruling cannot force the plant to halt operations unless it is finalized at a higher court.

But it could impact the assessment by the government’s nuclear watchdog, the Nuclear Regulation Authority, which has been working for nine years to determine if the plant meets the new regulations.

A group of about 1,200 plaintiffs from in and outside of Hokkaido launched the suit against the power company in November 2011, after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant in March that year.

They sought a halt to the operation of the plant’s three reactors, arguing that their constitutional rights to life and health would be violated in the event of an accident involving the release of radioactive substances.

The three reactors were taken offline between April 2011 and May 2012 for regular checks and have remained idle since.

Hokkaido Electric applied for a restart in 2013, soon after the more stringent reactor regulations were enforced by the government following the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The regulator has in the meantime been assessing whether the reactors meet the new safety standards.

But it is not clear when the assessment will end, mainly due to what the watchdog says is the utility’s lack of experts capable of engaging in discussions on safeguards against earthquakes, tsunami and volcanoes with NRA inspectors.

The central issue in the lawsuit was whether concrete danger should be anticipated by restarting the plant, which is located in the Shakotan Peninsula facing the Japan Sea.

The plaintiffs contended that an active seismic fault measuring up to 100 kilometers exists in waters about 15 km from the plant. They argued that the planned sea wall would not protect the plant from the anticipated maximum height of a potential tsunami strike.

They also said that an earthquake powerful enough to cause such a tsunami would liquify the ground and cause the sea wall to sink. And they contended that the plant is also suspected to sit along an active seismic fault.

With an overall output of 2.07 gigawatts, the plant accounted for about 40 percent of the electricity needs in Hokkaido prior to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

But the plant remaining offline does not pose serious problems to the local power supply, partly because new thermal plants went into operation.

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14634215?fbclid=IwAR0xR7m6l5-RSuv9CnahdBdSCOzS5W61nFmxXj5glVMmMBI7IKaovuJNiVg

June 7, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , , | 1 Comment

Court rules against restarting nuclear power plant in Hokkaido

This Sept. 25, 2021 file photo shows Hokkaido Electric Power Co.’s Tomari nuclear power plant in Tomari, Hokkaido.

May 31, 2022

SAPPORO (Kyodo) — A Japanese court on Tuesday ordered a nuclear power plant in Hokkaido to remain offline as requested by over 1,000 plaintiffs due to safety concerns, in a rare decision issued while the operator is seeking permission from authorities to restart the plant.

The Sapporo District Court ruled that Hokkaido Electric Power Co. should not resume operation of all three reactors at its Tomari nuclear plant in northern Japan in the suit filed in November 2011. It marks the third district court ruling for a nuclear plant to be suspended.

But the court rejected that the plant be decommissioned as requested by some 1,200 plaintiffs including local residents, in the first ruling on the scrapping of a nuclear power station.

All three reactors had been taken offline for regular inspections by May 2012 and remain idled, with Hokkaido Electric Power undergoing screening by the Nuclear Regulation Authority to restart them under tighter rules introduced after the 2011 Fukushima crisis.

In the latest in a series of similar suits filed since the nuclear crisis, Presiding Judge Tetsuya Taniguchi said the power company has “not provided evidence of the safety” of spent nuclear fuel stored at the plant and the plant does not have adequate protection against tsunami.

The court ruled that in the case of a plant accident, 44 of the plaintiffs who live within a 30-kilometer radius would have their human rights hindered.

Taniguchi added that the court had decided in January to terminate the hearing as the utility was not expected to be able to provide evidence for its claims in the foreseeable future.

“This is the first step toward creating a future without nuclear power plants in Hokkaido. It’s groundbreaking,” said 69-year-old Takeichi Saito, who led the group of plaintiffs.

But Hokkaido Electric Power said it cannot accept the ruling and will “promptly” file an appeal.

The company said in a release that it had repeatedly explained to the court the safety of the plant from both scientific and technical standpoints.

The case is a setback for the government’s efforts to reboot reactors that meet the post-Fukushima regulations after the nuclear disaster led to a nationwide halt of nuclear plants and increased dependence on coal-fired and gas-fired power generation.

Japan will likely need to rely on nuclear power to meet its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and cutting greenhouse gas emissions 46 percent in fiscal 2030 from fiscal 2013 levels. As of May 16, only 10 of the country’s 36 reactors have resumed operation under the stricter rules.

The country is also faced with the issue of reducing dependence on Russian coal and gas following Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine.

The plaintiffs argued there are active faults near the Tomari plant and in the nearby sea and the operator could be underestimating the size of potential earthquakes when designing the reactors’ quake resistance.

They claimed soil liquefaction could occur around seawalls near the plant in the event of an earthquake and the utility has not taken sufficient measures to protect against tsunami.

The power company countered that there are no active faults around the nuclear complex or in the nearby sea, and that the possibility of soil liquefaction is low.

Other district courts ordered the suspension of the Oi nuclear power plant’s No. 3 and 4 units in Fukui Prefecture in May 2014, and Tokai No. 2 located in Ibaraki Prefecture in March 2021.

However, no rulings over reactor suspension have been finalized. The order on the Oi plant was subsequently overturned by a high court and the Tokai No. 2 case is still pending.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20220531/p2g/00m/0na/042000c?fbclid=IwAR0-Quh6NneShgl2DFKU6TffIlsDtshZY8I3vL_Jp2-7_Y49h2e-QlVRZyo

June 7, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Sapporo District Court orders injunction against operation of Tomari Nuclear Power Plant, rejects request for decommissioning

Plaintiffs and supporters in front of the Sapporo District Court on the afternoon of May 31, 2022, after the ruling to halt the operation of the plant.

May 31, 2022
On May 31, the Sapporo District Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by residents of the Tomari Nuclear Power Plant of Hokkaido Electric Power Company, demanding an injunction against the plant’s operation and its decommissioning.

 The case was brought by approximately 1,200 residents of the area surrounding the Tomari Nuclear Power Plant of Hokuden, demanding an injunction against the operation of Units 1 through 3, the removal of spent nuclear fuel, and the decommissioning of the plant on the grounds that the plant is not safe enough against earthquakes and tsunami.

 The case has been ongoing for more than 10 years, and arguments have been made as to whether there is an active fault line in the sea near the Tomari Nuclear Power Plant and whether tsunami countermeasures, such as seawalls, are sufficient.

 In the ruling on March 31, Judge Tetsuya Taniguchi of the Sapporo District Court ruled that “the defendant (Hokuden) has failed to explain with adequate data that there is no risk of liquefaction of the ground with regard to the seawall, and that it lacks safety against tsunami and is likely to infringe on the lives and personal rights (life and body) of residents in the vicinity,” and “the danger extends within 30 km of the Tomari Nuclear Power Plant. The court ruled that “since the danger is within a 30-kilometer radius of the Tomari Nuclear Power Plant, the operation of the plant should be enjoined in relation to the plaintiffs who live within the radius.

 The court dismissed the claim for removal of spent nuclear fuel, stating, “Although the danger is recognized, the plaintiffs are demanding removal of the spent fuel without limiting the destination of removal, and there is a possibility of violation of the personal rights of the residents of the destination area.” The court dismissed the claim on the grounds that “there is no danger” to the defendant. On the other hand, the court ruled that the defendant “must explain the lack of danger with reasonable data.

 The court dismissed the request for decommissioning of the plant on the grounds that “even if individual preventive measures such as shutting down the reactor are necessary, it is difficult to find concrete circumstances that would make such measures necessary until the plant is abolished.

 After the ruling, Hokkaido Electric Power commented, “Although we have explained the safety of the Tomari Nuclear Power Plant from a scientific and technical point of view based on the latest findings, we sincerely regret that our arguments have not been understood. We will promptly file an appeal.
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June 7, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Sapporo District Court orders Hokkaido Electric Power Co. not to operate Tomari Nuclear Power Plant

May 31, 2022 
The Sapporo District Court has ruled that Hokkaido Electric Power Company (HEPCO) should not operate the Tomari Nuclear Power Plant in the village of Tomari in the Goshi region of Hokkaido, following a lawsuit by local residents and others claiming that the plant is not safe enough against earthquakes and tsunami.

The court ruled that Hokkaido Electric Power Company’s Tomari Nuclear Power Plant reactors No. 1 through No. 3 should be banned from operation, claiming that they are not safe enough. The court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, claiming that the plant was “unsafe” and demanded that it be banned and decommissioned.


The plaintiffs argued that “the existence of an active fault that could cause a major earthquake was not taken into account, and that the current tsunami protection system is inadequate to prevent tsunamis. The plaintiffs argued that “there is an active fault that causes major earthquakes, but the shaking was not anticipated, and the current levees cannot prevent tsunamis.


At 3:00 p.m. on March 31, the Sapporo District Court handed down its decision, in which Judge Tetsuya Taniguchi ordered Hokkaido Electric Power Co. to stop operating the Tomari Nuclear Power Plant.
The court did not approve the decommissioning of the plant or the removal of spent nuclear fuel, which the plaintiffs had demanded.


All three units of the Tomari Nuclear Power Plant have been out of operation for 10 years since Unit 3 stopped power generation in 2012 for routine inspections. The plant has been in a state of shutdown for 10 years.
https://www3.nhk.or.jp/sapporo-news/20220531/7000047050.html?fbclid=IwAR2wXLrDKnrR0zQ9KKN3zK2m2t_hYMXgKWht4aF3BFt9dtpZu03kLmUy0vM

June 5, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment