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15 July, 2016

Otsu District Court Once More Rules against Operation of Takahama-3 and -4

Once more, Japan's Otsu District Court has ruled—as it had in March—against the operation of the Takahama-3 and -4 Nuclear Power Plants (PWRs, 870MWe each), owned and operated by the Kansai Electric Power Co. (Kansai EP) in Fukui Prefecture. As a result, the two reactors remain idle and cannot be restarted.

Takahama-3&4

Earlier, on March 9, the Otsu District Court ruled against operation of the two reactors in a case dealing with the request for a temporary injunction. That was the first judicial decision prohibiting the operation of NPPs that were online at the time. Kansai EP filed an objection to the ruling, requesting that the injunction be lifted. District Court Judge Yoshihiko Yamamoto, who had issued the ruling in March, heard again from both the power company and the anti-nuclear citizens.

On July 12, the judge rejected Kansai EP’s request, arguing that as the cause of the Fukushima Daiichi accident had not yet been “explained fully,” the approval given by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) for the reactors’ compatibility with new regulatory standards could not be deemed a guarantee of their safety. He thus ruled against the reactor’s operations, just as he had in March.

Consequently, a situation continues to exist wherein the two units cannot be restarted. Kansai EP, anticipating that this will remain the case for an extended period, will begin removing nuclear fuel from the reactor cores next month. It also filed an appeal of the decision to the Osaka High Court on July 14.

Upon receiving the latest ruling, Kansai EP released a statement, saying, “We are very disappointed that our arguments were not understood. We strongly disagree with the decision.” The power company went on to say, “We will immediately take action against the decision and make our best effort to argue and prove the safety of the Takahama-3 and -4 NPPs so that the order of provisional disposal will be withdrawn as soon as possible.”

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