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Court overturns suspension ruling on Oi plant

 July 4, 2018


Court rejects suspension of Oi nuclear power plant




KANAZAWA, Japan (Kyodo) -- A Japanese high court on Wednesday ruled two nuclear reactors at a central Japan plant should not suspend operation, overturning a lower court ruling in favor of local residents who claim the plant is vulnerable to major earthquakes and other disasters.

The ruling by the Kanazawa Branch of the Nagoya High Court on the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors of Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Oi plant came after the Fukui District Court ruled in May 2014 against their restart in the first such ruling over Japanese nuclear power plants since the Fukushima nuclear crisis in March 2011.


The pressurized water reactors in question already resumed operation in March and May, respectively, after clearing in May last year new safety standards introduced in the wake of the meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi power plant triggered by a major earthquake and ensuing tsunami.


The reactors had been idle since Sept. 2013 for regular safety inspections. They previously halted operations in March and July of 2011, respectively, for inspection and restarted in July 2012 after clearing provisional safety standards.


During a high court hearing, Kunihiko Shimazaki, a former member of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, testified the utility could be underestimating the size of an earthquake it uses as a base for designing its reactors' quake resistance.


Kansai Electric argued, saying it has made calculations by assuming longer and wider faults exist around the premises.


The Fukui District Court ruled it will not allow the restart of the two reactors, citing flaws in the utility's measures against earthquakes and allowing suspension if there are specific risks of people's most fundamental right to protect their lives and maintain their living.


While plaintiffs said the district court ruling was appropriate as it took into account of the Fukushima accident and damage it caused, the utility said the ruling was based on abstract risks and the court needs to base its decision on scientific expertise.


Of the plaintiffs, the court only accepted the claims by 166 and rejected 23 who were outside the 250-kilometer area from the power plant. Both the utility and the rejected plaintiffs appealed the ruling.



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