Japanese nuclear operator ordered to halt reactor on safety concerns


  • ASEAN+
  • Friday, 17 Jan 2020

Shikoku Electric Power's Ikata nuclear plant pictured by the ocean in Ikata, Japan. A Japanese high court on Friday (Jan 17) ordered a nuclear plant operator to suspend a reactor despite its having met updated regulations. - Reuters

TOKYO: A Japanese high court on Friday (Jan 17) ordered a nuclear plant operator to suspend a reactor despite its having met updated regulations. The Hiroshima High Court issued the injunction prohibiting Shikoku Electric Power from operating its reactor at Ikata Nuclear Power Station on the south-western island of Shikoku due to safety problems in the earthquake-prone country. The ruling reversed a lower court decision and marked the second time the high court ordered the suspension of Reactor 3 at the Ikata plant. Presiding judge Kazutake Mori said in the ruling that the existence of an active fault near the nuclear plant cannot be ruled out. However, the operator failed to conduct a sufficient investigation as to whether an active fault exists less than 2 kilometre from the plant, he said. Mori also pointed out a "mistake” in the process of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) making a decision to approve the resumption of the operation. Shikoku Electric Power said in a statement that the decision was "extremely regrettable and absolutely unacceptable.” The operator will appeal the ruling, it added. The operator is scheduled to restart Reactor 3 in April, which has been offline due to a regular inspection, while it decided to decommission its two other reactors. Three residents of neighbouring Yamaguchi prefecture were appealing a decision in March by the Iwakuni branch of the Yamaguchi District Court, which allowed Shikoku Electric to continue the operation of Reactor 3. Friday's judgement dealt a severe blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, which has been keen to reactivate offline reactors, and overrode a decision by the NRA established following the nation’s worst nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011. The Fukushima plant suffered a triple meltdown in March 2011 after a tsunami swept through the facilities. Tens of thousands of residents have been unable to return home due to radiation contamination near the complex. Of the nation’s 33 workable reactors, only six are in operation. - dpa/Asian News Network
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