16 March, 2016
Kansai EP Files Objection with Otsu District Court Seeking Lifting of Temporary Injunction Against Operation of Takahama-3 & -4
On March 14, the Kansai Electric Power Co. (Kansai EP) of Japan filed an objection with the Otsu District Court against the temporary injunction that the court had issued on March 9, which halted operation of the Units 3 and 4 of the Takahama Nuclear Power Plants (both PWRs, 870MWe each) in Takahama Town, Fukui Prefecture.
As of now, however, the temporary injunction remains in effect. Unless judicial relief is granted to Kansai EP, the power company will not be able to resume operation of the two units. The court’s examination and consideration of the company’s latest filing is expected to take at least several months.
Following the court’s order on March 9, Kansai EP stopped operating Unit 3 on March 10. Takahama-4 was already shut down owing to a problem that had occurred immediately after being restarted in February.
The decision by the Otsu District Court pointed to problems in both reactors regarding such matters as design concepts, earthquake resistance, tsunami measures, and evacuation plans, based on the experience of the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants. “There is keen fear that the personal rights of residents are being violated, and that Kansai EP has not sufficiently explained that safety is secured,” the court said.
Safety of the reactors’ operations has, of course, already been approved by the nuclear regulator, namely, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA). However, nuclear operators in Japan now find themselves in the position of having to obtain the approval of judicial entities as well. Attention is thus now also on how the NRA—the regulatory authority that had already approved the reactors’ safety—will react.