High Court Orders Suspension Of Nuclear Reactor In Western Japan

TOKYO, Jan 18 (NNN-NHK) – A Japanese high court, overturned a lower court’s decision, and ordered the suspension of a nuclear reactor in western Japan, following an injunction made by local residents, over safety fears.

The Hiroshima High Court ordered Shikoku Electric Power Co., to suspend operations of the No. 3 reactor, at the Ikata nuclear power plant in Ehime Prefecture.

Three residents living on islands in Yamaguchi Prefecture, close to the plant, filed appeals against a lower court’s decision, made in Mar last year, in favour of the utility continuing operations of the reactor.

The lower court had ruled that the plant’s operations could be continued, as the risk of a large-scale eruption or earthquake occurring during the reactor’s operational lifetime was low.

The lower court also said that Nuclear Regulation Authority’s (NRA) safety regulations were acceptable.

The high court, however, determined that, an active fault in the area and Mt. Aso., an active volcano situated just 130 km from the plant, indeed posed potential risks that could not be ruled out.

“Research on the active fault is insufficient and the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s judgement, that it is not a problem is incorrect,” said Presiding Judge, Kazutake Mori.

The reactor has been idled for regular inspections, but following the removal of spent mixed-oxide fuel (MOX) completed on Wednesday, the first time Japan has conducted such an operation, Shikoku Electric had been planning to bring the reactor back online.

The high court had ordered the utility to suspend operations of the reactor in Dec, 2017, following an injunction filed by a different group of residents.

The order was revoked a year later by a different judge, with the reactor being rebooted in Oct, 2018.

Shikoku Electric will likely lodge a complaint with the court, in objection to the latest injunction, set to be heard by a different judge at the high court in Hiroshima, sources with knowledge of the matter said.– NNN-NHK