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Court rejects injunction against Ehime reactor

 March 30, 2017

Court refuses injunction against reactor



A Japanese court has turned down a request by residents for a halt to operations of a nuclear reactor in western Japan.

The Hiroshima District Court ruled on Thursday that local residents are in no specific danger of suffering serious radiation damage from the No. 3 reactor at the Ikata nuclear power plant in Ehime Prefecture.

4 people were asking for an injunction, saying the reactor is at risk of a serious accident from a major earthquake.

The reactor's operator, Shikoku Electric Power Company, rejected their concerns, saying it took safety measures based on the maximum size of a possible quake predicted for the area.
Presiding Judge Shigeyuki Yoshioka said the firm worked out its assessment based on a meticulous geological survey.

The judge ruled that there is nothing unreasonable about the Nuclear Regulation Authority's decision that the reactor meets its requirements.

The reactor was restarted last August after passing scrutiny by the agency based on stricter requirements introduced following the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident.

One of the four residents, Kenta Tsunasaki, called the court's decision regrettable. He said he will keep speaking out against nuclear stations.

Shikoku Electric Power Company said in a statement that the court's decision is reasonable. The firm said it will keep working to ensure safety.

District court rejects request to temporarily halt Ikata nuke plant



By YUKI KUBOTA/ Staff Writer

March 30, 2017 at 18:35 JST


HIROSHIMA--The district court here on March 30 rejected a request for a temporary injunction halting operations of the No. 3 reactor at the Ikata nuclear power plant in Ehime Prefecture, upholding the operator's anti-seismic designs.

The main point of contention in the closed court sessions was if the basic earthquake ground motion figure used by Shikoku Electric Power Co., the plant operator, was appropriate as the basis for its anti-seismic design for the reactor.

The four plaintiffs, who are residents of Hiroshima and Matsuyama, argued that the Ikata plant is located in the region that is vulnerable to a potentially massive Nankai Trough earthquake. The plant also faces a second quake risk because it is located close to the Median Tectonic Line, the longest fault system in Japan.

Based on those circumstances, the plaintiffs argued that the maximum 650 gals, a measure of ground acceleration, used by Shikoku Electric as the basic earthquake ground motion, was an underestimation when compared to the figures used for safety inspections of other nuclear plants that have been made stricter following the 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

However, the Hiroshima District Court ruled that Shikoku Electric used reliable measures in calculating the basic earthquake ground motion. The court also ruled that there were no irrational points in the decision made by the NRA to approve the safety screening for the Ikata reactor based on the new standards.

The temporary injunction request, filed on March 11, 2016, the fifth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, was rejected because the court ruled that the rights of the plaintiffs were not likely to be violated by the safety measures.

The ruling follows a decision on March 28 by the Osaka High Court that overturned a ruling in March 2016 by the Otsu District Court that issued a temporary injunction against the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Takahama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture.

Other residents have submitted requests for similar temporary injunctions against the Ikata plant in the Matsuyama and Oita district courts as well as the Iwakuni branch of the Yamaguchi District Court.

The plaintiffs in the Hiroshima case have also filed a separate lawsuit with the Hiroshima District Court seeking to halt operations of the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors at the Ikata plant. No ruling has yet been made on that lawsuit.

Japan court dismisses request to halt reactor in Ehime



March 30, 2017 (Mainichi Japan)

HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) -- A Japanese district court Thursday dismissed a request from local residents to order the halt of a nuclear reactor, which restarted last year, at the Ikata power plant in western Japan.

The decision by the Hiroshima District Court came two days after the Osaka High Court revoked a lower court order halting two reactors at the Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture. In that case, the high court accepted an appeal by the plant's operator against the first injunction ever issued in Japan to stop an operating reactor.

The No. 3 reactor is one of only three of Japan's 42 commercial reactors nationwide now operating. The two others are the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors at Kyushu Electric's Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan.

In response to Thursday's ruling, the plaintiffs plan to appeal the decision to the Hiroshima High Court, while Shikoku Electric Power Co. welcomed the ruling which supported its claim that it had ensured safe operation of the reactor on the opposite side of the Seto Inland Sea from Hiroshima.

Shikoku Electric has been operating the reactor since last August.

In the ruling, Presiding Judge Shigeyuki Yoshioka said there were "no irrationalities" in stricter safety regulations introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The court said quake and tsunami estimates by Shikoku Electric were appropriately set based on the safety regulations.

The court said there is a need to prudently review the rationality of the quake estimate. But it said such highly technical matters should be examined by seismologists and officials of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, and not determined by courts.

The most contentious points in the case included whether the post-Fukushima nuclear regulations set by the regulatory body are appropriate, and whether the estimate of seismic ground motion, a key factor in a reactor's quake-resistance design, was credible.

During the court hearings, the plaintiffs argued that Shikoku Electric underestimated the potential magnitude of an earthquake that could hit the plant, which lies above the epicenter of the anticipated Nankai Trough mega-quake.

Amid widespread concern about the safety of nuclear power in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima meltdown, four residents of Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, and the city of Hiroshima, which lies about 100 kilometers from the plant, filed a request with the Hiroshima court in March last year, seeking an order to halt the No. 3 reactor.

If the Ikata plant were to be severely damaged like the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was in 2011, nuclear substances could spread and contaminate the Seto Inland Sea, affecting Hiroshima on the other side of the sea, the plaintiffs asserted.

Supporters expressed their anger over the ruling, calling it "unjust" and saying that coming from the atomic-bombed city of Hiroshima, they will "not give up" the fight.

Similar lawsuits and other injunctions seeking suspension of the No. 3 reactor at the Ikata plant have been filed with other district courts in the nearby city of Matsuyama, Yamaguchi, which lies southwest of Hiroshima, and Oita, which lies to the west of Ikata.


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