In a landmark ruling regarding nuclear plants, the Fukui District Court has ordered Kansai Electric Power that they cannot restart two of their reactors because the safety of the plants and surrounding areas is at stake. This is the first time that a court has prevented a power supplier from bringing a reactor back online since the 2011 disaster that brought about the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima.
Around 189 plaintiffs brought the case to the Fukui District Court, with most of them living within 250 kilometers of the nuclear plant. According to presiding Judge Hideaki Higuchi, there is a huge possibility that the plant cannot withstand future earthquakes, and so it is “natural to ban operations.” The two reactors at the Oi nuclear plant are among the 17 applying for a restart with the Nuclear Regulation Authority under the new guidelines. The NRA has not yet made any decision on the restarts but has asked Kansai to fortify their plants in order to ensure safety during earthquakes.
Lawsuits like this aren’t uncommon in Japan, as dozens of cases are brought before different courts to prevent nuclear plants from operating in their respective areas. The last time that a court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs was in 2006 when the Ishikawa District Court ordered that the Shika Nuclear Plant’s No. 2 unit should be shut down because there was a nearby fault line that could possibly pose a risk. However, a higher court later overturned the decision.
Meanwhile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that despite the court’s ruling, the government is still sticking to its plan to restart the nuclear plants that will meet the NRA’s safety requirements in order to lessen the costs of importing fossil fuel. Japan has been without nuclear power since September 2013 when the only two online reactors at Oi had to shut down as well for maintenance checks. Anti-nuclear sentiment has been steadily building since 2011, when the Fukushima incident brought attention to the dangers posed by nuclear energy.
[ via Wall Street Journal ]