Not So Fast: Post-Fukushima Nuclear Restart Plans Foiled by Japanese Court

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
By Paul Martin

A Japanese court ruled against restarting nuclear power reactors at the country’s Takahama plant, derailing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plans to relaunch atomic energy generation four years after the Fukushima disaster.

Situated in the Fukui prefecture, the Takahama plant was given approval by Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) for plans to restart two reactors. The court ruling on Tuesday, however, sided with nine local residents who filed an injunction against the facility’s operators, Kansai Electric Power (Kepco).

Though Kepco said the plant’s safety procedures have been improved as per the NRA’s heightened standards, residents argued that nuclear officials underestimated the plant’s vulnerability to earthquakes. They additionally contended that the reactors did not meet proper standards, and that evacuation contingencies remained inadequate. A copy of the court ruling’s documents obtained by Reuters similarly revealed that the regulator’s standards “lacked rationality.”

Kepco referred to the injunction as “regrettable and utterly unacceptable,” vowing to appeal the ruling. The nuclear power plant operator, which supplies the Osaka metropolis, has lost 744 billion yen ($6.2 billion) since the 2011 Fukushima crisis and is expected to lose an additional 161 billion yen this year.

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